Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a retinal disease that affects the small central area of the retina known as the macula.
With AMD your vision may be less sharp, distorted or blurry which can make it hard to do everyday tasks like reading, driving and even recognizing a friend’s face.
The exact cause of AMD is unknown but it develops as the eye ages. It is the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans.
There are two types of AMD, wet and dry. The most common form is dry AMD which develops and worsens slowly over time. Wet AMD is less common but can progress much faster and cause loss of central vision in one or both eyes.
The Retina and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye cavity.
When light enters the eye, it passes through the iris to the retina where images are focused and are converted into electrical impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain resulting in sight.
With early dry AMD, pale yellow lesions called drusen can develop and parts of the macula can deteriorate, causing vision loss over time. With wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina which may bleed or hemorrhage causing wavy lines or loss of central vision.
In support of UV Safety Month this July, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds us of the importance of shielding eyes from the sun’s harmful rays with 100% UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology tells us studies have shown that long-term exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer. UV rays reflected off sand and water can cause eyes to sunburn.
February is Low Vision Awareness Month, and there is no better time to protect one of your most important senses – your eyesight. Learning about the causes and risk factors is the key to protecting your sight.
A few of these factors are increasing age, obesity, or having a family history of eye disease.
Keep in mind that healthy habits like eating well and being active can lower your risk for diseases and conditions that can lead to eye or vision problems, like diabetes or high blood pressure.
It is important to make healthy choices and take steps to manage your diabetes. Diabetes can damage the body’s normal circulation and cause problems with circulation to your heart, brain, eyes, kidneys and legs.
The leading cause of blindness in the US is diabetic retinopathy which is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye).
According to The National Eye Institute your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. Over time, more than half of people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that you can lower the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, you may not have symptoms. This makes it essential for those with diabetes to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once per year. Your eye doctor will check for any signs of damage to the retina and optic nerve, including leaking blood vessels, swelling of the retina and growth of new vessels. If your eye doctor detects significant diabetic retinal disease, they may refer you to Southeastern Retina Associates for treatment, and one of our retina specialists will evaluate you at one of our offices in Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, Abingdon, Knoxville, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Sevierville, Morristown, Harriman, Crossville, Athens, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Dalton, Hixson or Rome, GA.
We have been told that vision loss isn’t a normal part of aging — but older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that one in six Americans age 65 and older have a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. The risk of eye disease increases as we get older, yet many older adults neglect to see an eye doctor for care.
To bring attention to taking care of our eyes as we age, the American Academy of Ophthalmology celebrates Healthy Aging Month to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of vision loss – and steps to help seniors take care of their sight.
Especially as we age, many people see occasional flashes of light. These occasional flashes are usually harmless, but you should discuss them with your eye doctor. However, if you suddenly start seeing repeated flashes of light and vision changes this could be a serious problem.
Call your doctor right away if:
You see sudden flashes when you haven’t before.
You have a sudden increase in flashes of light.
You see flashes of light along with cloudiness or dark spots in your vision.
You have a dark area or ‘curtain’ across your vision.
You see flashes of light after being hit in the eye or face.
Suddenly seeing new floaters and flashes could mean you have a torn or detached retina. If this happens, you must see your eye doctor quickly and your eye doctor will refer you to a retina specialist.
Southeastern Retina Associates uses state-of-the-art diagnostic testing to confirm or rule out problems that could affect your retina. The information we gather during diagnostic testing can help our doctors manage conditions in your retina and macula.
Fluorescein angiography (FA) is when our doctors use a special camera to take pictures of your retina. These pictures help our doctors get a better look at the blood vessels and other structures in the back of the eye.
FA is often recommended to find and diagnose eye disease including:
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of your retina.
With OCT we can see each of the retina’s distinctive layers allowing us to map and measure their thickness. These measurements help with diagnosis as well as provide treatment guidance for diseases of the retina.