Hi I’m Dr. Carl Regillo the Chief of the retina service of Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. I’m coming to you from the Wills Eye Alumni Society Newsroom and I’m going to talk to you about age-related macular degeneration or AMD.
AMD is a major public health problem for eye conditions. Unfortunately, it remains a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. It’s very important for people to know that they have AMD because we do now have some very effective treatments, especially for the wet form.
So let’s back up a little bit and talk about what AMD is. The macula is the center of the retina. That’s where we focus our image. And in people over the age of 60, it is not uncommon to start to see some degenerative changes of the macula.
There are two basic forms. There is the dry, early stage which usually doesn’t really have much symptoms associated with it, and most people could do very well if the condition stays dry. But then there’s the more advanced wet stage, and that causes potentially severe vision loss if not treated. But we do have good treatments, and if we detect the wet form of macular degeneration early in its course, we can retain and keep vision relatively good in many patients. So it’s very important for anyone over the age of 60 to have their eyes examined, a dilated eye examination by an eye care provider to detect and know whether there is macular degeneration.
Once you know you have it you can then intervene, and the interventions are to two. One if it’s dry – there is a vitamin formula that’s been shown to decrease the risk of going from dry to wet. So ideally it will help to keep the eyes healthy. That’s called the AREDS 2 vitamin formula. It’s something that’s readily available over the counter in pharmacies. So once dry has been detected, it’s always prudent to consider starting those types of vitamin supplements. Your doctor can advise you whether your candidate for that type of treatment. Then once you know you have the dry form, if there’s ever a vision change, it could mean that it’s turning wet, And again, wet is treatable and best results are caught early. So if you know you have dry AMD and there’s a sudden vision change, your eyes should be checked relatively quickly – usually within a few days or a week or so to see if it’s turning wet, and then appropriate treatments are then administered.
So it’s very important to detect macular degeneration, to know that you have it, and then take measures to keep your eyes healthy and that will help to keep the vision good.
Thank you very much.