What You Need to Know about AMD + MacuRisk Testing
Advances in health research has helped prolong our life span and improve our quality of life, and the same advances have been made in the eye health industry. We know so much more about eye health and eye diseases than we did 20 or even 10 years ago. Research into eye diseases has not only helped us identify specific causes and effects, but it has also helped develop the tools and treatments to accurately detect, diagnose and deal with the problems that can lead to loss of vision.
One of the more common eye problems that many people face as they grow older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
What Are the Symptoms of AMD?
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for adults aged 60 and over. It is caused by damage to the macula. The macula is a small oval area that covers the fovea near the center of the retina; the fovea contains the largest concentration of cone cells; these cones are the eye’s photoreceptors and are the part of the eye that receives light. The macula has a diameter of just 5.5 mm, but this tiny area is responsible for delivering sharp, central vision, so when the macula is damaged it affects visual acuity.
There are two main forms of age-related macular degeneration: the dry form and the wet form.
The dry-form of AMD is caused by the presence of yellow deposits in the macula. A few of these small deposits may not affect the vision, but if they grow in size or increase in number they may lead to symptoms such as:
- Dim or distorted vision
- Blind spots in the center of vision
- Loss of central vision
The wet form of macular degeneration is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid. The choroid sits under the macula and is responsible for providing nourishment to the outer layers of the retina through blood vessels. When these blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, it causes wet-form AMD and symptoms include:
- Distortion of vision that makes straight lines look crooked.
- Blind spots
- Loss of central vision
Is AMD Genetic?
The short answer to this question is, yes – it can be. A gene that regulates inflammation has been associated with the risk of AMD, and this genetic predisposition has been found to account for half the cases of age-related macular degeneration in North America, but AMD is not always caused by your genetic blueprint. There are many other factors that cause this form of macular degeneration, such as an unhealthy diet, smoking, obesity and hypertension.
How Long Does It Take for AMD to Progress?
If you have been diagnosed with AMD, your first concern may be how quickly it could progress. Unfortunately, there is no way to give an accurate timeline because there are so many variables involved with this retinal condition. However, as with every other ailment, you can help your body heal by making sure you get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
Is there a Genetic Test for Macular Degeneration?
Luckily, yes there is. The genetic test for AMD is called the Macula Risk Test. It is a simple test that is administered right in our Kelowna optometry office.
We simply take a cotton swab sample from the inside of your cheek. The swab is sent to a genetic laboratory where they test the DNA to determine the risk of progression to age-related Macular degeneration. The diagnosis will also help us determine which eye supplement formulations will work best for the individual based on their genetic risk profile.
The effects of AMD can be arrested and treated, but for treatment to be effective, it is best to catch AMD in the early stages.
A Kelowna eye exam will detect problems in vision that may indicate the presence of AMD, so if you are over 50, it’s a good idea to schedule yearly eye exams to make sure you catch macular degeneration in the early stages.
If you are over 50 and want to maintain good vision for years to come, contact us at Orchard Park Optometry to make an appointment. This specific eye exam can be performed right here in our office. It’s simple, fast and it may just save loss of vision.