Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

What is AMD?

Age related Macular Degeneration commonly addressed as AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss. In most countries just like our sunny city, it is the 2nd most common cause of permanent vision loss. In AMD, the Macular which is responsible for the clearest part of your vision is permanently damaged.

The macular has a high concentration of photoreceptor cells which convert the light rays that reach our eyes into electrical pulses to our visual cortex, the part of the brain which is responsible for processing visual information.

In the initial stages of AMD, the photoreceptor cells start to break down into ‘hard’ drusens which are made up of lipids. These drusens appear as yellow spots on the macular. The next stage of damage occurs with pigmentation of the damaged retinal pigmented epithelium layer of the retina. Up to this point, there may not be perceivable vision loss. 

In the advanced stages of AMD, there is abnormal blood vessel growth into the retina. As these blood vessels are not properly formed, they leak blood and proteins onto the photoreceptors, further damaging them and causing the macular to swell. As the damage worsens, vision starts to get blurry and wavy. In time, there may be noticeable missing spots in the central vision with permanent damage to the macular.

AMD Vision Defect

 

Should I be worried?

There isn’t an updated statistic on how many Singaporeans suffer from some form of AMD. However, in 1997, a community study showed that 1 in 4 people above 60 years old had signs of AMD.

Risk factors:

  1. SMOKING – Doubles your risk of permanent blindness
  2. Age – the chances of AMD of occurring increases after 60
  3. Family history
  4. Gender – women are more likely to develop AMD
  5. Obesity

Can I prevent AMD?

An honest answer to that would be, No. This is because there isn’t one proven cause for AMD. It is caused by a multitude of factors. Some beyond our control. Therefore, what we can do is to make a few tweaks to our lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing AMD

If you are a smoker, then stop immediately. There is no two ways about it. Smoking doubles your risk of AMD and many more diseases. So, Stop Now! If you do not smoke, then hop onto a new exercise regime, get moving, get running, get active! Start eating more vegetables and fish. Get your eyes protected from harmful UV rays!

Lastly, use this simple tool below to look for AMD symptoms.

Amsler Chart

You may easily find this AMSLER chart online for easy download. You may download it here. Keep it handy. You may want to print one for your aging family members. It is easy to use. Hold the chart 30cm away from your eyes. Just close one eye and look at the black spot in the middle. You should be able to see the entire chart. If the surrounding lines appear wavy or blurred, seek medical advice from a doctor. Continue to monitor them regularly to see if new changes develop. 

Stay Healthy and Stay Happy!