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Blurred vision? It could be AMD

» Keep an eye out

» Help is on the horizon

Vitamins for vision?

In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) from the National Eye Institute, taking a high-dose combination of antioxidants (including vitamins A, C and E) and zinc reduced the risk of advanced AMD and the vision loss associated with the condition. Ask your eyecare professional if you should consider taking the AREDS formulation.

If words on a page, faces, cars on the road or other objects start getting blurry, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may be to blame. AMD is a condition in which the macula— the part of the eye that helps you see objects clearly—deteriorates, leaving you with blurred vision, making driving, reading and other tasks nearly impossible. And it’s most common in people over age 50. Smokers, women, Caucasians and those who have family members with the disease are also at increased risk.

Keep an eye out

AMD has two forms, and symptoms vary.

  • Dry AMD. This is by far the more common type, affecting nearly 90 percent of AMD sufferers. Cells in the macula (in one eye or both) are destroyed slowly. The most common symptom is a blurry spot in your vision, but if you have AMD in only one eye, you may not have any vision changes. Dry AMD generally progresses slowly. AMD always starts out as the dry form and can progress to the wet form.
  • Wet AMD. This is a more advanced disease, and vision loss comes on quickly. With wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula, lifting it up. The new blood vessels leak blood and fluid, damaging the macula. Seeing straight lines that appear wavy is a common symptom of wet AMD, and should be checked out by an eye doctor immediately.

Help is on the horizon

When you go for your eye exam and your eye doctor dilates your pupils, one of the things he or she is looking for is AMD. Dry AMD can’t be reversed, but in some cases, it may not affect your vision. Taking a special combination of vitamins may help (see “Vitamins for vision?”). Treatment for wet AMD includes:

  • Laser surgery. A beam of light is directed at the new blood vessels to destroy them, preventing additional vision loss.
  • Injections. Drugs are injected into the eye to block the growth of abnormal blood vessels to slow vision loss and possibly restore sight. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need these injections monthly.
  • Photodynamic therapy. The drug verteporfin is injected into your arm and travels up to your eye, where it “sticks” to the new blood vessels. A light is then shined into your eye to activate the drug, destroying the new blood vessels—and not healthy tissue surrounding them. This treatment can slow vision loss and may need to be repeated, as it’s not a permanent fix.

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