Age-Related Macular Degeneration

woman covering right eye while looking at object

One of the leading causes of vision loss in people who are age 50 or older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This common eye condition leads to damage of a small spot near the center of the retina called the macula. The macula provides us with the ability to clearly see objects that are straight ahead.

AMD may progress very slowly, with vision loss taking a long time to occur. In some people, though, the disease may advance more quickly. It can affect one or both eyes. Some treatment options are available for later stages of AMD.

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the first symptoms of AMD is a blurry area in the center of your field of vision. Over time, this blurred region may increase in size. You may also develop blank spots near the center of your vision. In addition, objects may not be as bright as they once were.

AMD does not lead to complete loss of vision. However, the central vision that is affected by AMD is needed for many everyday activities, such as being able to read, write, recognize faces of other people, drive a car, cook or fix things around the house.

Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

One of the main risk factors for AMD is being over 60 years old; although, this condition can happen in younger people. Other risk factors for AMD include:

  • Smoking. Smoking tobacco can double your risk of suffering from AMD.
  • Race. Caucasians are more at risk of AMD than Hispanics/Latinos or African-Americans.
  • Family history. If someone else in your family had AMD, you are at greater risk of developing it.
  • Genetics. Almost 20 genes have been linked to an increased risk of AMD.

Certain healthy lifestyle choices may slow the progression of AMD or reduce your risk of developing it, including:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a well-rounded diet that includes a lot of fish and green, leafy vegetables
  • Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at normal levels
  • Doing regular physical activity

Treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

There is no treatment for AMD during the early stages. Many people have no symptoms at this point. If you have early AMD, your eye doctor may suggest a yearly — or more frequent— eye exam to see if your disease is getting worse.

For intermediate- and late-stage AMD, some research has found that high doses of certain vitamins and minerals may slow the advance of this disease. This includes vitamins C and E, zinc, copper and beta-carotene (and perhaps lutein and zeaxanthin).

These will not help you if you have early-stage AMD. They may, though, slow vision loss in the later stages. To find out if nutritional supplements are right for you, check with your ophthalmologist.

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Testimonial

  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.