What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic, progressive disease that affects the central field of vision and can lead to blindness. AMD attacks the macula, a part of the retina that allows us see objects located straight ahead of us.
Think about the eye as a camera.
The macula of an eye compares to the film or digital processor of a camera. With a camera, damage to the film or digital processor results in blurry pictures. In the human eye, a macula damaged by AMD results in loss of central vision.
Learn more about AMD and the first warning signs.
What are the risk factors for AMD?
The primary risk factors for AMD include:
- Age 50 or older
- Family history of AMD
- Caucasian (white)
- Smoker or past smoker
- Heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
Age is the biggest risk factor. In fact, nearly 1 in 8 adults over the age of 60 suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Family history also plays a significant role in the likelihood of developing AMD.
Are You at Risk?
If you are over age 50 or have a family history of AMD, talk to your eye care professional now about early detection.
How Do I Know if I have AMD?
As a progressive disease, AMD reveals itself in stages:
- Subclinical AMD
- Early AMD
- Intermediate AMD
- Late AMD
Subclinical AMD lasts for about five years and often goes unnoticed. The first warning sign comes in the form of trouble seeing at night. Many people blame poor night vision (caused by impaired “dark adaptation”) on the normal aging process and don’t report the symptom to their doctor.
Don’t make that mistake. If you begin having difficulty driving at night, reading in dim light or adjusting to seeing in the dark, tell your eye care professional. Identifying AMD at this point is critical to delaying significant vision loss.
Early and Intermediate AMD
Before we learned that dark adaptation is the first symptom of AMD, eye care professionals relied on identifying the disease during the early or intermediate stages. At this point, your doctor may see drusen—yellow deposits of fatty protein under your retina—which is an indicator of AMD.
During late-stage AMD, people start to notice central vision blurriness. The transition from early-stage to late-stage AMD happens rapidly. If left untreated, it can lead to legal blindness in as little as six months. While treatment options can slow the progression of late AMD, nothing can reverse the damage already done.
I think it’s excellent that my doctor has AdaptDx because it can detect AMD at a very early stage. There’s a history of AMD in my family so I was very motivated to take the test.
The earlier your doctor diagnoses AMD, the more proactive measures you can take to delay, or even prevent, blindness. Talk to your eye care professional about testing for AMD early by measuring dark adaptation with the AdaptDx —if you have any risk factors or symptoms.