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What is Macular Degeneration?

Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD):

Article written by: Nadia Kalantarova; student at Suny Optometry School: graduating class of 2016.


What is it ?

  • Leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.
  • Damage to the macula, a small spot in our retina needed for sharp, central vision which allows us to see objects straight ahead.
  • Progression varies but is generally slow, blurred area near the central vision is
  • experienced as the disease progresses.
  • Will not lead to blindness but  the loss of central vision can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as: to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house.


Who is at risk?

  • Older Population: Age is a major risk factor for ARMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier.
  • Smokers: Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of ARMD.
  • Race: ARMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
  • Family history and Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.


Reduce your risk or slow progression by…

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.
  • Wear sunglasses to protection against UV damage.
  • Take a daily multivitamin including 10mg of Lutein.


How is AMD detected?

The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive (dilated?) eye exam can detect AMD. The eye exam may include the following:

  • Visual acuity test: This eye chart measures how well you see at distance and near.
  • Dilated eye exam: Your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupils in order to better evaluate the macula.
  • Amsler grid: Your eye care professional also may ask you to look at an Amsler grid to check for any changes to your vision.  This test can be done in the office and at home.
  • Optical coherence tomography: Imaging scan of the back of the eye.
  • Fluorescein angiogram: In later stages of macular degeneration, this test is used to check for leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye.


Age Related Macular degeneration(ARMD) comes in stages. Dry ARMD is the first stage and consists of waste products building up in the eye. This stage may or may not progress to Wet ARMD which consists of a break down of tissue and leakage of blood vessels in the back of the eye. Treatment varies depending of severity and stages of disease. Treatment aims to slow progression and preserve remaining vision.

Major component of treatment is learning to use your remaining vision with the help of Vision Rehabilitation and a support team. The biggest player is YOU, in addition to your primary eye care professional, and an optometrist or ophthalmologist specializing in low vision. Occupational therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, certified low vision therapists, counselors, and social workers are also available to help.

Information provided by National Eye Institute at:

Has it been more then a year since your last eye examination?  Do you have any risk factors for macular degeneration?

Contact Maple Eyecare to schedule your next eye examination.