Imagine being able to make eye contact with a loved one only because you can discern the outline of their face and know where their eyes should be, but not being able to clearly view their face. Sadly, this is reality for people who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease. In the United States, it is the leading cause of vision loss for people aged 55 and older, affecting more than 10 million Americans.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina. This portion of the eye is known as the macula. This thin layer of light-sensitive tissue lines the back of the eye and – when healthy – transmits clear, detailed images from the eye to the brain via the optic nerve. In people who have AMD, these images may be distorted. The first symptom is often that straight lines appear wavy, but other symptoms may appear as a blurred area or blank spot in the central vision, and objects seeming smaller or further away than they are.
The exact cause of AMD is not known, but risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking. In fact, research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD. If you notice changes in your vision or have these risk factors, it is a wise idea to schedule an eye exam with your trusted optometrist. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD.