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AMD Symptoms and Risk Factors

AMD Symptoms

Some symptoms of macular degeneration are detected early, yet not connected to the disease until after the condition is fairly advanced. Other symptoms seem more obtrusive and are likely to trigger a visit to the eye care professional:

  • Difficulty seeing or driving at night
  • Difficulty reading in dim light
  • Worsened visual acuity
  • Distorted vision
  • Central vision loss

Dark Adaptation

Also known as “night blindness,” impaired dark adaptation is the earliest symptom of AMD.ii Physical changes occurring in the early development of AMD compromise the eye’s ability to adjust to darkness. This can make it difficult to drive at night, read in dim light or adjust to dark places, like walking into a dark movie theater. More noticeable visual deficits become evident as the disease progresses, such as worsened visual acuity, distorted vision and central vision loss.

AMD Risk Factors

There are also many risk factors associated with the development of AMD. Most risk factors can’t be modified, though others can be managed to some extent.

Non-modifiable risk factors:

AMD Prevalence by Age ii

  • Age 50 or older
  • Family history of AMD
  • Caucasian (white)

Age is the biggest risk factor for AMD. Family history, ethnicity, and gender can play a significant role as well. According to the National Eye Institute, AMD is more prevalent among white Americans as compared to other races. Perhaps partly due to life expectancy discrepancies, 65 percent of AMD cases in the U.S. were women in 2010.

Modifiable risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Chronic sunlight exposure

The biggest modifiable risk factor for AMD is smoking. Current smokers carry a 2.5 to 4.8 times higher risk than non-smokers for developing AMD. Sadly, one study showed 90% of patients with AMD were not advised to stop smoking and less than 50% of smokers know smoking may contribute to blindness.ii

Based on epidemiological studies, several systemic conditions carry an increased risk of developing AMD. Keeping cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity in check may help preserve the vision in these patients, as well as improve their quality of life.ii

The AdaptDx is especially useful for optometrists and general ophthalmologists who see many patients with “normal” clinical exams, since it can detect subclinical AMD up to three years before clinical onset. With the AdaptDx, you will be in the front line in detecting these patients and will be able to carefully monitor and treat those with subclinical AMD.

Dr. Shawn Lewis1 Shawn Lewis, MD View all testimonials

Understand More About AMD

Stages of AMD

As a progressive disease, AMD reveals itself in stages. Detecting AMD at the subclinical level offers patients the best chance to prevent blindness.

AMD Treatments

By effectively identifying risk factors and symptoms, you can start treatment of AMD early to help delay vision loss.