What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?


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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects the macula, a small but essential part of the retina responsible for central vision. AMD is common among the elderly, with approximately 1.3 million French individuals affected, most of whom are over 50 years old. It is a leading cause of visual impairment, as it can gradually destroy the central part of the eye's retina.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Types of AMD:

Two primary forms of AMD are recognized: the wet form, which progresses rapidly, and the dry form, which advances more gradually but can still cause significant damage. While treatments exist for the wet form, currently, there is no effective treatment for the dry form, impacting the daily lives of 800,000 individuals. Research is underway to evaluate molecules that may prevent the premature death of retinal cells, offering hope for future treatments.

Symptoms of AMD:

AMD can lead to challenges in reading, watching television, and driving as it affects central vision. However, peripheral vision remains unaffected, allowing individuals to maintain some level of independence in activities like dressing and eating.

Causes and Risk Factors:

Age is the primary risk factor for AMD, with the likelihood of developing it increasing with age. Other factors include smoking, obesity, a history of cataract surgery, a family history of AMD, and being female.

Prevention of AMD:

Preventing AMD involves several key strategies:

  1. Regular Eye Check-ups: Starting from age 50, regular eye exams are essential to detect any signs of AMD.
  2. Avoiding Smoking: Quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of developing AMD.
  3. Balanced Diet: Consuming foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and low in lipids can help reduce the risk of AMD.
  4. Controlling Other Risk Factors: Managing factors like obesity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial.

Diagnosing and Treating AMD:

Early diagnosis and treatment are vital for preserving vision. Consultation with an ophthalmologist is recommended as soon as symptoms or vision changes occur. Diagnosis involves various eye examinations to detect abnormalities, followed by appropriate treatment options:

  • Visual Rehabilitation: Maximizing remaining vision through rehabilitation programs.
  • Medication Injections: Injections to block the development of harmful blood vessels in wet AMD.
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): Destroying abnormal blood vessels in some cases of AMD.
  • Nutritional Supplements: Certain supplements can help slow the progression of the disease.
  • Optical Magnification Devices: Assistive devices like magnifying glasses for severe vision impairment.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential for managing AMD effectively. While treatments exist for the wet form, ongoing research offers hope for future treatments for the dry form. Consultation with an ophthalmologist is recommended for personalized evaluation and treatment.

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