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Approximately 11 million Americans are living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and this figure is expected to double by 2050. In today’s post, your eye doctor from 20/20 Image Eye Centers explains everything you need to know about AMD.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Part 1: What Causes It

What Causes AMD?

The macula is the small area in the center part of your retina, which plays an important role in helping you see the things directly in front of you. It also gives you the vision you need to appreciate details and distinguish colors. However, it may deteriorate as part of the aging process, leading to AMD.

While increasing age is the primary risk factor for AMD, your eye doctor explains that here are other factors contributing to its development. Smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. It’s also more common among Caucasians, and tends to be hereditary.

How Does AMD Affect Your Vision?

AMD symptoms vary depending on what type you have. There are two major types of AMD: dry and wet. Roughly 90% of all reported cases of AMD are classified as dry. This happens when the layers of the macular atrophy, compromising their functions. As they become thinner, the color of the macula may change. Drusen, waste products in your eye, may also start to form on your retina.

Wet AMD is the more advanced form. It occurs when the choroid layer, the underlying retinal membrane that supplies your retina with blood, becomes damaged. As a result, oxygen and nutrient delivery to your eyes is compromised. Your eye doctor explains that your eyes may compensate by growing new blood vessels. Unfortunately, these new vessels are fragile and rupture easily, leading to blood leaks into the retina and macula, which can cause the macula to swell. At this point, you may start seeing shadowy areas in your central vision. Distorted images are also common. Without prompt treatment, vision loss may be inevitable.

For more information about AMD, complete our form to request an appointment. We serve different AZ areas, including Glendale, Phoenix and Chandler. Check out the last part of this special post to learn how AMD is managed.