February 15, 2019 by John Fernandez and Tanya Racoobian
Watch Now: Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration
One of the leading causes of vision loss for people age 50 and older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition damages the macula, a part of the retina that aids in sending information through the optic nerve to the brain to create images. Once the macula deteriorates, dark or blurry vision may begin to occur.
The symptoms may continue to worsen until it affects the central vision. AMD may lead to blindness.
Mark Feldman, M.D., an ophthalmologist with the Baptist Eye Surgery Center at Sunrise, says that AMD “is occurring with greater frequency because we are not dying younger.” He adds, “it is a disease mainly affecting those over 70 and it can lead to catastrophic loss of vision.”
There is no cure for AMD, but some treatments are showing promise in slowing down the symptoms in more than half of those receiving the medication. Recent studies show that anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injection therapy has been successful at helping patients regain some vision loss created by AMD.
The National Institutes of Health list the following as risk factors for AMD:
Age-The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:
Smoking-Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
Race-AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
Family history and Genetics-People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.
Dr. Feldman stresses the importance of getting yearly comprehensive eye exams with an ophthalmologist to properly assess your vision and detect any irregularities that may surface.
Hear more of what Dr. Feldman tells the Baptist Health South Florida News Team about treating AMD.