Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over age 60, and it is growing at an alarming rate all over the world. Your patients may be at risk. Join us in raising awareness of the importance of frequent vision screenings and retinal health checks.
According to a study funded by the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 there were as many as 9.1 million people living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the U.S., and it is estimated that 17.8 million people will have AMD by the year 2050. That’s a 95% increase—8.7 million more people who may be at risk of losing their vision, and they have no idea it's even happening. We can help them. Together, let's educate about AMD, its causes and risk factors, and share simple steps they can take to be proactive about preserving their vision.
It is estimated that 196 million people worldwide will have AMD by the year 2020.
AMD affects central vision.
Adults age 60+ are at a higher risk for developing AMD.
- AMD causes damage to the macula, the part of the eye that lets us see objects that are straight ahead.
- In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes.
- A blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom of AMD. Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be.
- AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness. However, the loss of central vision in AMD can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house.
- There is no cure for AMD, but treatment may slow disease and prevents severe loss of vision.
Watch the video to learn how ultra-widefield imaging with ZEISS CLARUS 500 can help detect diseases that might otherwise go undetected.
The onset of AMD cannot be prevented, but patients can take proactive steps that may help slow vision loss. Here are a few that doctors recommend:
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help to quit.
- Choose a healthy diet. A diet rich in antioxidant vitamins, zinc or healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil contribute to eye health. Also of value in patients with AMD are diets high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon or walnuts.
- Manage your other medical conditions. Keep a check on other medical conditions like cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. Take your medication and keep the condition under control with the help of your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Exercise regularly and maintain body weight.
- Have routine eye exams. Don't forget to get routine eye exams. Also, ask your doctor about self-assessments that can help identify if your condition develops into wet AMD, which can be treated with drugs.
Despite improvements in technology, many AMD patients are not referred to retina for care until they have already developed some loss of visual function... we as providers should be able to make the diagnosis of exudative AMD sooner so that patients can be referred for timely treatment prior to loss of visual function or even symptoms.Jay Haynie, OD, FAAO
ZEISS recently talked to Dr. Jay Haynie about the challenges and misconceptions his patients have about AMD and what they can do to better their chances of avoiding or reducing central vision loss.
What is the biggest challenge clinicians face today in managing AMD patients?
In my opinion, this is really a three-fold problem in my retina practice. The first major challenge in managing AMD patients is being able to manage patient expectations of the disease. AMD is an aging process of the eye and over time may impact one's central vision. Although there continues to be many therapeutic options to treat the exudative complications of the disease (wet AMD), patients may still suffer loss of visual function regardless.
The second challenge is despite improvements in technology, many AMD patients are not referred to retina for care until they have already developed some loss of visual function in one or both eyes. I think we have great technology available to us in eye care and we as providers should be able to make the diagnosis of exudative AMD sooner so that patients can be referred for timely treatment prior to loss of visual function or even symptoms for that matter.
And finally, the third challenge in managing AMD patients is the burden of treatment for exudative AMD. Most patients will require monthly intravitreal treatment for the first 3-6 months and then periodically for the rest of their lives, not to mention the follow-up visits deemed necessary to monitor the disease. This is not only a burden on the patient, but the family members as well who often are taking time out of their lives to provide transportation to and from the office. Fortunately, there may be new treatments on the horizon that are designed to reduce the burden of monthly injections using compounds and delivery methods that may last several months effectively treating the complications in a more time release fashion.
In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about AMD?
In my opinion, one of the biggest misconceptions of AMD is that it is curable. AMD is an aging condition, and at this time, it is not curable. We can treat the complications of exudative AMD and put our patients on a micronutrient supplement (AREDS2, caratenoids or a combination of the two) intended to prevent complications. However, in the end, the disease may continue to progress throughout one's life. An important factor in patient education regarding this is to address the modifiable risk factors for advanced AMD and make the attempt to reduce this for our patients.
What can patients do to help manage their AMD better?
What can patients do? In my opinion, the first thing that patients can do is try to understand AMD as best they can. In addition, patients should be compliant with any instructions by the eye care provider. This includes taking the micro-nutrient supplement regularly as directed, reducing the modifiable risk factors of AMD, understanding the symptoms of more advanced AMD (reduced central vision, distortion, sudden onset of scotomatous like visual loss, reduced function in dimmer illumination etc.), monitor for symptoms with monocular testing with a home amsler grid and keeping scheduled follow up appointments at the interval recommended by the eye care provider. Those with a higher risk profile (family history of AMD, an increase in risk factors etc.) will need to be seen more frequently to monitor progression, so that if exudative complications (wet AMD) occur, early treatment can be offered to stabilize and reduce the possibility of central vision loss or legal blindness, which is considered the natural history of AMD for some of our patients.
Dr. Jay M. Haynie graduated from Pacific University College of Optometry in 1992 and completed a residency at American Lake Veterans Hospital in 1993 where the focus was on the diagnosis and management of ocular disease. He served as the Executive Clinical Director of Retina and Macula Specialists until 2018 after which time he joined Sound Retina in Tacoma Washington. He is an adjunct clinical professor at Pacific University College of Optometry, a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a member of the Optometric Retina Society. He is a sponsor of a 4th year internship for Optometry students in his private practice. He is a clinical investigator and continues to be involved in clinical studies regarding retinal disease management, both as a principle and sub-investigator. He is a published author and has become a nationally recognized speaker on advances in technology and the management of retinal disease.
Significant breakthroughs in drug and gene therapies and advanced imaging tools like ZEISS CIRRUS HD-OCT with AngioPlex and ZEISS CLARUS 500 have not only enhanced the clinicians' knowledge about pathophysiological mechanisms that play a role in vision loss due to AMD, but these technologies have also provided clinicians with pathways to optimize treatment plans. Learn more how OCT Angiography is facilitating the fundamental shift in diagnosis and management of AMD.
In this video, David Boyer, MD, discusses the utility of OCTA for identifying choroidal neovascularization in patients with type 1 AMD and gauging their response to anti-VEGF treatment. Watch the video to learn more.
Multi-modality in diagnostics and imaging are increasingly becoming the standard of care in eye clinics. The ability to assess and compare the data from different modalities provides clinicians a new level of confidence for proposing a treatment regimen that is customized to each patient's individual needs.
As a clinician, your patient is your first priority, and that means providing the best level of care available today. However, that’s not all that is needed. The burgeoning patient population also demands efficiency from doctors and practices, and while the advent of new and better technologies have elevated care for patients, clinicians no longer have the time to log onto multiple platforms to review different sets of data.
Enter the Integrated Diagnostic Imaging platform from ZEISS, the software-driven multi-modality solution that gathers, combines and associates data from different diagnostic devices, improving decision making and efficiency.
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Jordan, Serena. Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050. But newer treatments could reduce related blindness by 35%. HealthDay. USNews.com/Health. 4/2009.
Rixon, A., OD, Trevino, R., OD, and Attar, R., OD. “Arm Yourself for Dry AMD”. Review of Optometry. January 2017
Rubio RG, Adamis AP. Ocular angiogenesis: vascular endothelial growth factor and other factors. Developments in Opthalmology Retinal Pharmacotherapeutics. 2016;55:28-37.