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What You Need To Know About Detecting Aged-Related Macular Degeneration

For people who are aged 50 or older, their vision may be increasingly at risk due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, it’s important to understand exactly what AMD is and how your eye doctor can detect it. Detection is the first step to fighting this disorder, and will allow for treatment specifically tailored to your specific eye problem. Here is what you need to know about AMD and the different detection tests available.

About AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) impacts the macula, which is the central portion of the retina that enables the eye to see detailed images. As a result, AMD is characterized as a disorder that impacts central and sharp vision characteristics, and impacts your ability to make out objects clearly. As a result, it can impact your ability to perform important tasks such as driving and reading.

There are two major forms of AMD which have different characteristics. Wet AMD results from malfunctioning blood vessels that begin to grow under and around the macula, which leads to blood leakage and fluids that don’t flow properly in the eye. This condition can lead to scarring in the eye and impaired vision.  

Dry AMD is characterized by macula thinning that is often a part of the aging process, which leads to a gradual reduction in vision and a general blurring of images. This form of AMD is far more common than wet AMD, and also develops at a much slower rate than wet AMD.

Detecting AMD

Your optometrist has a number of testing methods available to help determine if you’re suffering from AMD or not. Often, there are other age-related conditions or vision problems that may be responsible for your vision loss, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and presbyopia. Here are the following tests your optometrist can perform:

  • Visual Acuity Testing – This is the common eye chart seen in all optometrist offices, and is the first step to testing your vision.
  • Amsler Grid – Your optometrist may test your vision with the Amsler grid. When central vision is impacted by AMD, certain lines on the grid may take on a wavy pattern, a classic sign of AMD.
  • Dilated eye examination – Your eye doctor places drops in your eye that will dilate or enlarge your pupil. He or she will then use magnification to examine your optic nerve area and retina for signs of AMD.
  • Optical tomography – This test uses light beams to take high resolution images inside your eye’s tissue. It’s sort of the eye doctor’s version of an X-ray or ultrasound, but uses its own unique technology to peer inside your eye.
  • Fluorescein angiography – This test uses fluorescent dye injected in your arm to follow the flow of blood through your eyes. This can help spot leakages in eye blood vessels associated with wet AMD.

Optometrists will also look for drusen, which are yellow or white globules of proteins that can build up to dangerous levels in your eye. Not all seniors with drusen will develop AMD, but they are at greater risk than the general population.

Ultimately, there are more tools than ever for detecting AMD in seniors, which will help your eye doctor make a more accurate diagnosis and provide the proper treatment you need to control your AMD and improve your vision.

You can read more here, or contact a local eye doctor for more information. 

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