Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss in Canada for people over 55. According to Fighting Blindness Canada, this eye condition affects around 2.5 million people. There are two kinds of AMD: wet and dry. Of the two, wet AMD is the most treatable but also the most severe.
What Is Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Wet age related macular degeneration is a chronic eye disorder that can leave you with blurred vision or a blind spot. This is because it affects the part of the eye at the back of the globe – the retina. This area translates what you see into something the brain can interpret.
The macula is the section of the retina responsible for central vision, the most critical part of your vision. Central vision is what allows you to read, drive a car and see what is in front of you.
Wet AMD occurs after someone has dry AMD. It is unclear why some people develop this condition while others don’t. However, it affects about 20 percent of people that have dry age-related macular degeneration.
Wet vs. Dry AMD
Dry AMD occurs when the macular region becomes distorted. It is a progressive disease and often has no symptoms in the early stages. There are no treatments for dry AMD, but lifestyle changes help protect the vision.
Wet AMD begins when someone has dry AMD. A lack of oxygen causes abnormal blood vessels to leak fluid into the macula.. The leaking fluid can damage the sensitive cells of the retina, leading to vision loss.
Symptoms of Wet AMD
Once wet AMD begins, it can grow worse quickly. Symptoms include:
- Visual distortions
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- The need for brighter light to see, especially close up
- Trouble adapting to low-light environments
- The blurriness of printed words
- Reduced color intensity
- Trouble recognizing faces
- A blurry or blind spot
Treatment Options for Wet AMD
There are several treatment approaches for wet age-related macular degeneration, starting with lifestyle changes.
The doctor might recommend you eat a nutrient-rich diet to support your eye health. Often, that includes a diet full of colourful vegetables, fruits, and fish. A nutrient-rich diet might slow the progression of the disease.
Exercise is also critical. Staying active can slow it down, as well. In addition, exercise helps to control blood sugar and blood pressure.
Finally, if you smoke, you will need to stop. Smoking can damage the retina and cause inflammation that will worsen the disorder. This is the number one most modifiable risk factor.
In wet macular degeneration, injections are used to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Drugs are the first line of treatment at every stage of wet macular degeneration. This is done every 4-6 weeks with the goal of shrinking the abnormal blood vessels and stopping their leakage into the retina.
Early detection of wet AMD is critical, so if you have dry AMD, it is essential that you have regular eye exams. There is evidence that nutritional supplements may slow the progression from dry to wet AMD. Research indicates that taking the correct formulation of certain nutrients can be effective, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
You should discuss a regimen of nutritional supplements with your doctor before starting them. Not all supplements are the right choice for each patient; they may even interfere with current medications.
Wet age-related macular degeneration is very serious and can lead to significant vision loss. The key is prevention. If it’s been a while since you had an eye exam, contact us today at Garibaldi Eye Care to make an appointment or book one online.