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Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) Treatable?

by Damion Wasylow 23 January 2020 08:23 AM

elderly couple watching a movie in the theater
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over age 60, affecting up to 11 million people in the United States. The likelihood of developing advanced ARMD increases dramatically as you age, from 2% for people ages 50-59 to nearly 30% for people over age 75. While the condition is not curable, early diagnosis and treatment may help slow its progression, allowing patients to retain their sight for longer.

What Causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

There are two types of ARMD – dry and wet, with dry being most common. Dry ARMD is caused by bits of fat and protein called drusen collecting under the retina. By age 50, nearly everyone has some amount of drusen under their retinas. It is typically harmless until deposits become soft, large and located around the small area at the center of your retina known as the macula. At a certain saturation point, these drusen prevent oxygen from reaching your eye and ARMD symptoms develop. Vision loss from dry ARMD is generally fairly slow but can result in permanent loss of central vision.

Wet ARMD is much more abrupt. With wet ARMD, abnormal blood vessels grow in the macular area. These vessels are fragile and may leak fluid or blood, which diminishes central vision. Vision loss can be rapid and significant. People with wet ARMD may experience distorted vision, blind spots or objects appearing to be different sizes with each eye.

How is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treated?

There is no proven treatment for dry ARMD, but studies have found that a healthy diet high in antioxidants can help support the cells of the macula and slow ARMD progression. In one study, researchers found this type of diet lowered the risk of macular degeneration progressing to advanced stages by about 25 percent. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation further recommends supplementing one’s diet with a combination of antioxidants, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids.

Treatment of wet ARMD typically reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of severe vision loss. Treatments may involve medication injections, thermal laser therapy or photodynamic therapy. 

If you or someone you love believes you may be experiencing ARMD symptoms, contact your local eye doctor today to schedule an exam. North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care is a leading provider of quality eyecare for patients with all types of vision challenges, including ARMD. Call us today at 352-373-4300.



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