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Macular Degeneration (cont.)

What Is the Prognosis of Macular Degeneration?

Prognosis is highly variable. The prognosis is generally worse for those with a strong family history of AMD and those who develop either geographic atrophy or wet AMD. Approximately 1%-1.5% of all patients with dry AMD go on to develop the wet form.

What Are Macular Degeneration Complications?

In wet AMD, abnormal vessels can ooze blood under, in, or in front of the retina. The presence of the blood itself can cause further damage to the retina, thus necessitating prompt treatment when appropriate. Some patients develop double vision if the abnormal vessels distort or drag the macula, resulting in a shift of the image seen in one eye. Legal blindness (vision of 20/200 or worse with glasses) develops in a minority of AMD patients (fewer than 5% overall); however, when it occurs in both eyes, it of course has a huge impact on one's lifestyle.

Follow-up for Macular Degeneration

Because some people with the dry form of macular degeneration may develop the wet form, those with the dry form should monitor their vision daily or at least weekly with the Amsler grid and notify their ophthalmologist of any changes in their vision.

Your eye doctor will ask you to return for repeat examinations. The frequency of these visits will depend on your risk factors. Pictures (photographs and OCT imaging) are often taken to keep track of the macular changes. Patients who have undergone treatment for the wet form of the disease should continue to monitor their vision for signs of recurrence.

Are There Ways to Prevent Macular Degeneration?

Unfortunately, there are no known ways to prevent AMD at this time; however, there are many steps one can take to decrease the severity of the disease.

  • Regular eye examinations to detect AMD in its earliest stages are important. And follow-up visits together with home monitoring of the vision with the Amsler grid is especially important in people who have been diagnosed with AMD.
  • If you smoke, stop. Smoking is associated with worse vision loss in AMD. Smoking is also associated with worsening of other eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.
  • A balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables and low amounts of sugar is associated with better eye health.
  • Protecting the eyes from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light with sunglasses that block UV rays may also help decrease the severity of AMD. Additionally, the UV-blocking sunglasses help protect against skin cancer on the eyelids' skin.
  • Ask your eye doctor if you should be taking the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2) vitamin supplements.
  • A recent study implied a correlation between aspirin use and AMD, however, since then many other studies have demonstrated no correlation, and the overall benefits outweighed the risks for those who were prescribed aspirin for cardiovascular health.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

ARMD, Nonexudative »

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible visionloss in the developed world.

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