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AMD or Age-Related Macular Degeneration | Long Island Eye Doctor

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

AMD is a common condition of the eye among people aged 50 and older. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults.  This condition destroys the macula, the part of the eye which is needed to see clearly.

In some cases Age-Related Macular Degeneration moves so slowly that it takes a very long time for vision loss to occur.  In some people it may advance much more quickly and lead to vision loss in one or even in both eyes.  This type of vision loss makes it hard to see people’s faces, read, drive, or do work that’s close up such as sewing.  While vision is lost, those who have AMD will retain their peripheral vision so they will be able to see with their side vision.

Who is Most at Risk for AMD?

  • Those 50 and older
  • Those who smoke (smoking doubles the risk)
  • Those of European descent are more likely to get AMD than those of African descent
  • Those with a family history of AMD

What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk of AMD

  • Do not smoke
  • Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and fish
  • Exercise

How Does Your Optometrist Made a Diagnosis of AMD?

AMD usually has no symptoms until it is fairly well advanced. Your Long Island Optometrist at Optix Family Eyecare Center in Plainview, NY can make a diagnosis during your vision exam by looking at how well you do on your Visual Acuity Test (the eye chart test) as well as looking at the back of your eyes during your dilated eye exam, when you are given eye drops to dilate your pupils.  He or she may have you look at an Amsler grid which contains a series of lines. If there are changes in your central vision some of the lines may look wavy or disappear.

If all of the tests above indicate that you may be showing signs of AMD, your Long Island Optometrist will refer you to a medical eye specialist who will perform a test called a “fluorescein angiogram.”  During this test, dye is injected into a patient’s arm and pictures are taken as the dye passes through blood vessels in the eyes.  This allows the doctor to see if there are any leaky blood vessels in your eyes.

Genetic Testing

If your optometrist feels that you may be pre-disposed to AMD, he or she may suggest a genetic test that can tell you for sure what the chances are that you may develop AMD and vision loss.  This test is paid for by your insurance in full and is free to you.

Treatments

AMD cannot be reversed or stopped, but its progression can be slowed.  One form of AMD, wet AMD may be slowed by injections of anti-VEGF drugs into the eyes.  Eyes normally contain VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) but people with wet AMD, have very high levels of VEGF.  The Anti-VEGF injections lower the levels and can improve vision and quality of life.

Although this is older technology, some AMD patients are given laser treatments called photodynamic therapy.  A drug is injected into a vein in a patient’s arm and the drug travels into blood vessels in the eyes.  A laser beam is then focused on the eye and the drug activates, causing any new and abnormal blood vessels to be destroyed.  This slows the rate of vision loss.

Some kinds of wet AMD are treated with laser surgery. This is another way to rid the retina of new, unwanted blood vessels.  This treatment is used the least of all possible treatments as it can also harm healthy blood vessels in the eyes.

To find out more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration, speak with your Long Island Optometrist at Optix Family Eyecare Center during your vision exam. To make an appointment call 516-931-6330 or click here: http://www.optixeyecare.com/eye-exam.asp

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