Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is the leading cause of adult blindness in developed countries and affects nearly 1 in 8 adults over the age of 60. This chronic, progressive disease attacks the macula, a part of the retina that allows us to see objects located straight ahead of us. The macula is responsible for central vision, which allows one to do things like recognize faces, read and watch TV.
Stages of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
As a progressive disease, AMD reveals itself in stages.
- Subclinical AMD
The earliest detectable stage of age-related macular degeneration. The first warning sign is trouble seeing at night. Many people blame poor night vision on the normal aging process and don't report the symptom to their doctor. Don't make this mistake. If you begin having difficuly reading in dim light or adjusting to seeing in the dark, let Dr. Losh know. Identifying AMD at this essential to proactively managing the disease.
Early to Intermediate AMD
Before we learned that dark adaptation is the first symptom of AMD, eye care professionals relied on identifying the disease during the early or intermediate stages by identifying drusen -- yellow, fatty deposits under your retina -- which are physical indicators.
- Advanced AMD
Patients notice central vision blurriness as the disease advances. The transition from early-stage to late-stage AND happens rapidly. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss as severe as legal blindness in as little as six months. While treatment options can slow the progression of late AMD, nothing reverses damage that is already done.
AMD Symptoms and Risk Factors
The earliest symptom of AMD is impaired dark adaptation, which may cause difficulty seeing at night. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include distortion of straight lines or dark and blurry central vision.
There are several factors that may increase your risk, including:
• Age 50 or older
• Family history of AMD
• Race (more likely in Caucasian/white persons)
• Current or former smoker / user of nicotine
• Heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
Age is the biggest risk factor. In fact, 1 in 8 adults over the age of 60 have AMD. If you are experiencing a symptom of AMD or have multiple risk factors, Dr. Losh recommends evaluation with our AdaptDx Pro dark adaptation test.
About Dark Adaption / AdaptDx Pro testing
People with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) often do not know they have the disease during its early stages. They may dismiss early warning signs, like trouble seeing at night, as part of the normal aging process. Ignoring these symptoms only delays diagnosis, which can lead to more vision loss.
Losh Optometry has a test that helps us diagnose AMD at a very early stage and monitor disease progression. If you are experiencing problems seeing at night, or it is becoming increasingly difficult to read in dim light, talk to us about scheduling an AdaptDx Pro test.
AdaptDx Pro Dark Adaptometer
The AdaptDx Pro® aids in the detection and management of AMD. It measures the time it takes for your vision to adjust to the darkness, your dark adaptation speed. The test only takes about 10 minutes. You’ll wear a headset and press a button every time you see a flashing light. You’ll be coached by the friendly voice. The test guides you through each step and lets you know how you are doing. Once the test is completed, your doctor will review the results with you.
What is RI?
The result of the test is your Rod Intercept® (RI®), the time it takes for the eye to adjust from bright light to darkness. When you take the AdaptDx Pro test, the device calculates your RI number and provides your doctor with critical information to help determine whether or not you have AMD.
Is the AdaptDx Pro test covered by insurance?
We may be able to bill the test to your insurance provider if there is a medical diagnosis related to AMD or you are experiencing trouble seeing in dim or dark environments. If not, the AdaptDx Pro test may require a modest out-of-pocket charge.
What should I expect during the test?
Watch this video that shows you exactly what to expect during the test:
What happens if AMD is detected?
If you are diagnosed with AMD, we have valuable time to develop a plan to delay further symptoms.
Proactive steps to delay or prevent vision loss include:
• Lifestyle changes, such as improved diet and exercise
• Smoking / nicotine use cessation
• Eye health nutrition supplements
• Blue light protection
• UVA and UVB protection