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Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) describes a variety of degenerative conditions that affect the macula, the part of the retina that controls your central vision. Your central vision is what you see directly in front of you rather than what you see at the side, or periphery, of your vision. Your macula helps you see the print on a book, thread a needle, sign a check, and recognize faces. It is the macula that allows us to see 20/20!

macular degeneration | AMD | Hamilton, Burlington

The early stage of macular degeneration is more commonly known as the “dry phase”. Early or dry macular degeneration, is represented by the build up of tiny yellow deposits called drusen in the macula tissue within the back of the eye. This stage may or may not reduce vision, depending on the number and location of the drusen deposits.

During the later stages of AMD, the deterioration of the macular tissue worsens leading to the growth of new blood vessels within the macular area. These new blood vessels in the macula are prone to bleeding and fluid leakage, which causes swelling of the macular tissue. This late stage is often called the “wet phase”, and is far more visually disrupting than the dry phase.

One million Canadians have some form of AMD, making it the leading cause of vision loss in Canada. More Canadians have AMD than breast cancer, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease combined. About 10% of those with “dry“ARMD will advance to the “wet” form.

What are the causes/risk factors of ARMD?

  • Dry AMD | Macular Degeneration | Wet AMD | Hamilton & Burlington The exact cause of AMD is unknown.
  • Genetics and family history play a large role.
  • Age- People who are 60 years and older are at greater risk.
  • Race- Typically white and fair skinned people are at greater risk.
  • Eye color- Typically, people with light colored eyes are at greater risk (blue/green).
  • Gender- Women tend to be affected more than men.
  • Smoking- A well established risk factor for both dry and wet forms.
  • Sunlight- UV exposure increases the risk.
  • Nearsightedness- High amounts of nearsightedness are linked to macular degeneration.

What is the treatment for ARMD?

For the dry form of AMD, Studies such as the AREDS (age-related eye disease study), have scientifically proven that dietary supplements containing a formula of high-dose antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), lutein and zinc can slow the natural progression and reduce complications from AMD. These supplements come in the form of a very specific multivitamin taken by mouth. Our Optometrists will discuss which of these vitamins is right for you.

Quitting smoking has been shown to prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration as well as other eye conditions including dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic eye changes, and glaucoma.

For the treatment of the “wet” form of AMD, more involved methods are needed in the form of laser and injectable medicine into the eye. Lasers directed around the macular area will help stop the leakage of blood and fluid, while the injectable medicine will attempt to stop the growth of new blood vessels.

If you live in or around the Hamilton or Burlington area, please call our office and book an eye health examination to ensure your eyes are healthy! For more information about AMD please ask any of our doctors, and they will be happy to answer all of your questions.

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