Eye Exams at Every Age: Your First Line of Defense Against Macular Degeneration

Eye chart during a routine eye exam in New York City

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in U.S. adults over 65. While there is no cure for AMD, staying on top of regular eye exams allows you to spot symptoms early on and get treated right away. That means regularly visiting an ophthalmologist—we have locations in Queens, Jackson Heights, and throughout New York, if you’re in the area—so you can slow vision loss and enjoy clear vision for many years to come.

In honor of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, we’re providing some helpful info about the condition and discussing the importance of early detection with regular eye exams.

What is age-related macular degeneration?

AMD is a condition in which the macula (the central part of the retina) deteriorates, causing a gradual loss of vision.

There are 2 types of AMD:

  • Dry: Layers of the macula get progressively thinner and begin to lose function. Small drusen, or piles of waste, develop on the retina.
  • Wet: New leaky blood vessels grow in the choroid layer behind the retina, causing scar tissue to form and disrupting retinal function.

People typically experience dry AMD first, and without proper treatment, it progresses to wet AMD.

What are the symptoms of AMD?

If you have AMD, you may experience wavy or blurry vision followed by a loss or distortion of your central vision and a grey or dark area in the center of your field of vision.

You may not notice symptoms early on, which is why it’s so important to have your eyes checked regularly. Regular exams allow your ophthalmologist to identify any issues as early as possible so you can start treatment as soon as you need it. Learn more about diagnosing AMD from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.

Is age-related macular degeneration treatable?

AMD is not curable, but you can manage your symptoms and slow vision loss with retina care. Treatment options include:

  • Injections: Injections of medications may shrink abnormal blood vessels and reduce leaking. Your eyes are numbed with an anesthetic before the injections.
  • Laser surgery: Laser surgery may slow vision loss by sealing off leaking blood vessels. This surgery is typically well-tolerated and performed right in our office.

Your ophthalmologist will recommend the best treatment for you based on how advanced your condition is. If you do not have an ophthalmologist, get tips for choosing one in this previous blog post.

What is the best way to prevent age-related macular degeneration?

Regular eye exams are the best way to catch AMD as early as possible. In addition to testing your vision, your ophthalmologist will look for discoloration of the macula itself to determine whether you are experiencing any degeneration, even if your vision is not yet affected.

Other tips to keep your eyes healthy include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure: This limits excess pressure on your eyes.
  • Protect your eyes from sun exposure: Too much direct sun or exposure to bright light is a leading cause of accelerated macular degeneration.
  • Quit smoking: Smokers are more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers.

To stay on top of your regular eye exams and diagnose AMD as early as possible, visit a qualified ophthalmologist or optometrist. Our offices are located in Queens, Jackson Heights, and across New York. Give us a call at 1-888-212-EYES or contact us online to learn more.

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