Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a prevalent eye disorder caused by the breakdown of the macula, a component of the retina. The National Eye Institute states that AMD is the primary cause of vision loss in individuals aged 50 and above. There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet. Approximately 10% of dry macular degeneration cases develop into wet AMD, at which point symptoms typically worsen rapidly.
Experiencing Blurred Vision
Macular degeneration can progress at different rates, depending on various factors. One of the earliest symptoms is often blurriness near the center of your vision. This blurred area may initially be quite small, but it can grow larger over time, leading to the development of blank spots in the central visual field.
Encountering Visual Distortions
Macular degeneration can lead to the perception of distorted shapes, such as straight lines appearing wavy or bent. This is often one of the earliest indicators of wet macular degeneration. When this symptom arises, there’s only a brief window of opportunity to halt the damage and prevent complete vision loss. As a result, it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Struggling with Loss of Contrast Sensitivity
A person suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may experience a decreased ability to discern subtle differences in textures, lighting, shadows, and other visual elements. This impairment can result in injuries, as minor inclines, small steps, and other inconsistencies in one’s path might be easily overlooked, causing trips or falls. Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to such injuries, as their bones are generally more fragile, making fractures more likely to occur.
Having Difficulty Adapting to Low Light Conditions
Individuals experiencing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may find it challenging to adjust their vision when transitioning between well-lit and darker environments, and vice versa. This can create difficulties while driving through tunnels or navigating during twilight hours like sunrise and sunset. Additionally, glares from wet roads or glass surfaces can exacerbate this issue, making it particularly hard to see clearly.
Requiring Brighter Lighting to See Clearly
As macular degeneration progresses, tasks such as reading or eating in poorly lit areas may become increasingly challenging. People with this condition need to adapt their environments by using overhead lamps or reading lights. Additionally, replacing dim lighting throughout the home with brighter bulbs can help alleviate this symptom.
Noticing Decreased Color Intensity
Macular degeneration can lead to colors appearing less vibrant, causing once-bright shades to seem dull. As a result, similar colors may start to blend together, making it challenging to distinguish between certain objects. To improve daily functioning, individuals with this condition might consider organizing items in their home by contrasting colors, making it easier to navigate their surroundings.
Facing Difficulty in Recognizing Faces
As macular degeneration progresses, it can have a significant impact on one’s central vision, making it increasingly difficult to recognize people and distinguish faces. If you experience this symptom, it’s a good idea to inform friends and family that they should identify themselves when greeting you.
Struggling to Read Text
Macular degeneration often results in challenges when attempting to read, particularly small text. To combat this, individuals with the condition might opt to carry a magnifying glass to facilitate reading documents or signs. Another useful strategy is to purchase large-print books or utilize an e-reader with features that can enlarge text or provide audio translations, making the transition smoother for those affected by this common eye disorder.
Observing Changes in Vision in One Eye
Macular degeneration, as stated by the Mayo Clinic, typically impacts both eyes, though they may progress unevenly. Often, when one eye’s symptoms worsen, the other eye compensates, initially making the issue unnoticeable to the individual. This compensation can lead to headaches. It is crucial for anyone, particularly those over 50, to report any eyesight problems to an eye doctor to ensure proper care and treatment.
Experiencing Sudden Onset and Rapid Worsening of Symptoms
If you experience a sudden and rapid decline in your vision, it could be a sign of wet macular degeneration. To address this, a doctor may prescribe anti-angiogenic drugs that help prevent the growth of excessive blood vessels, which can damage the macula. While there is no known cure for macular degeneration, certain prescriptions and supplements may help slow its progression. These include vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and copper. However, it’s essential to consult your doctor before incorporating these supplements into your routine.