AMD or age-related macular degeneration is a common medical eye condition that affects the middle part of your vision. It gets its name from the fact that it most often affects people who are aged 50 and older and is more likely to occur with advancing age. It also takes its name from the part of the eye which is affected – the macula.
The macula is a small but very important area of cells located at the center of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the very back of the eye. The macula is responsible for enabling us to fine details clearly. However, as we get older, the cells of the macular can start to degenerate. When this happens, it can make it difficult to see fine details at any distance. However, it only affects your central vision. Your side/peripheral vision will almost certainly remain normal. Patients with AMD may find activities such as reading, watching tv, driving and other things that involve central vision much more difficult. If the condition progresses, it may also become difficult to recognize faces.
Experts have found that the earlier AMD is detected, the fewer consequences it will have for patient vision. Fortunately, today, AMD can be detected earlier than ever and prevented, ensuring that older patients can retain a clear central vision for as long as possible.
There are two different types of AMD, one of which is much more common than the other. The most common variety is referred to as ‘dry’ AMD, although dryness itself isn’t a symptom, it is merely called this to differentiate it from the other type of the condition. Around 75% of patients with AMD have the dry variety which is caused by a combination of an accumulation of waste material under the macula and thinning of the retina at the macula. Dry AMD develops very slowly, making it difficult to detect. Often, by the time the patient realizes that they are affected, considerable damage may have been done to their vision.
The remaining approximate 25% of patients have what is known as ‘wet’ AMD. Wet AMD tends to be caused by abnormal blood vessels at the back of the eye leaking blood or fluid into the macula. This leads to scarring and the rapid loss of central vision. Wet AMD can develop very suddenly, and symptoms are usually acute. This means that they can be identified quickly, and urgent attention is needed to prevent permanent damage to vision.
Recognizing the importance of early identification of AMD, it is now possible to screen for the risk and development of the condition using AdaptDx. AdaptDx is a fully automated dark adaptometer – a piece of equipment that has the ability to identify dark adaptation, which is the earliest biomarker of age-related macular degeneration. Dark adaptation refers to the patient’s visual ability to recover sensitivity in the dark after exposure to light.
The AdaptDx can aid in the diagnosis of early AMD before any vision loss occurs and before any structural changes to the macula are observed. It is often used in combination with the results of OCT imaging and information observed from a physical examination of the back of the eye using retinal cameras and other devices.
The screening itself is very simple and non-invasive, with no need for any pupil dilation meaning that patients can avoid dilating eyedrops – something which some find uncomfortable. Patients wear a state-of-the-art headset that features artificial intelligence that takes them through the test and blocks out all light, eliminating the need to place you into a darkroom. The technology tracks the way that patient pupils react to changes in light in real-time and produce reliable and consistent results.
Early identification of being high risk of developing AMD or being found to be already affected helps our eye care team to ensure that you get the care you need to preserve your vision. Although there is no reversal of any vision loss as a result of AMD, things can be done to prevent any vision loss from worsening or to prevent it from happening for as long as possible. Our experienced and dedicated team in Bonaire, Perry GA will be able to talk you through your options.