Age-related macular degeneration also referred to as AMD, is a serious eye condition that largely affects older adults. When this eye disease develops, there is a very real risk of losing a substantial degree of vision due to the deterioration of the central part of the retina. Because macular degeneration is attributed with thousands of cases of low vision each year, patients who receive this diagnosis have good reason to feel concerned.
We understand that a diagnosis of macular degeneration can feel overwhelming and that there may be more questions than answers in the beginning. Here, we want to give some attention to a looming question that patients may have, but not ask: how quickly will macular degeneration progress? The answer isn’t straightforward, but clarity can be gained by understanding a few details.
The type of AMD you have affects the rate of progression.
The majority of cases of macular degeneration that occur are the dry type. Dry AMD occurs when the pigment is deposited on the macula, or when this part of the retina thins out. Wet AMD is a type of degeneration occurs when cells in the retina leak fluid and blood onto the macula. Wet AMD is a faster-progressing condition than Dry AMD. Patients with Dry AMD do have a small risk of their condition changing to the wet type, but this occurs only about 10% of the time.
Progression may be slowed with early diagnosis and treatment.
One of the primary concerns of AMD is that there is no cure for this eye disease. Early diagnosis can significantly improve long-term prognosis, though, due to the prompt attention placed on management. Research suggests that many cases respond favorably to treatment when AMD is detected early. If you are 60 years of age or older, your yearly eye exams are very important to your eye health.
Age is only one factor in progression.
Age-related macular degeneration has other risk factors that should be acknowledged. Studies indicate a notably increased risk for smokers, due to the damage that chemicals cause to the blood vessels in the eyes. When there are also hereditary factors, such as a family history of macular degeneration, smoking should be strictly avoided. Also, individuals with one or more risk factor for AMD are encouraged to supplement a healthy diet with antioxidant products to fight free radical damage to the eyes.