AMD (age-related macular degeneration): causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention
What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of low vision in France in people over 50 years of age. One million French people would be affected by a more or less severe form of the disease: 1 in 4 people after 75 years and 1 in 2 people over the age of 80 would be affected.
" To fully understand what AMD is, first talk about the macula "explains Véronique Morin, orthoptist, optometrist and optician.The macula is an area located in the back of the eye that faces the pupil and that allows in particular to see the details and colors. She is the most exposed to light in everyday life "says the specialist.
Yes, but here it is: under certain circumstances (and thanks to certain risk factors), this fragile zone can degenerate, that is to say, to degrade little by little.
What are the causes ? There are 3 main risk factors for AMD:
- Abnormal tissue oxidation that may be caused by smoking, ultraviolet (UV) radiation or - this is still a hypothesis - overexposure to blue light,
- A diet deficient in vitamins A, C and / or D,
- Family genetic risk: It is estimated that the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration is 4 times higher if there is one case of AMD in the family.
" AMD affects as many women as men, but is more common among older people: 25% of the French population is affected by the age of 65 "adds Véronique Morin.
What are the symptoms of AMD?
" The problem with AMD is that the disease often progresses slowly, over several years: patients become accustomed to their symptoms (they say "it's age") and do not think to consult. It's a mistake! explains the specialist.In addition, the pathology may concern only one eye on both and ... go unnoticed.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is progressively evolving:
- At first, the patient will see a metamorphopsia, that is to say a deformation of the images: the lines, in particular, do not seem straight anymore.
- Then, "shadows" appear: " it's like having a spot on his glassesexplains Véronique Morin. We see through, but we have the sensation of having a shadow in front of our eyes ".
- Finally, "holes" appear in the field of vision: " these are black dots, as when undergoing a photo with flash, but permanently They are accompanied by a decline in vision.
" As soon as the first symptoms appear, it is necessary to make an appointment with a ophthalmologist : Do not waste time ! "advises Véronique Morin.
What are the treatments for AMD?
" At present, there is no treatment against AMD : it's a disease that can not be curedexplains the specialist. This is why it is necessary to consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible, as soon as the first symptoms appear: it is a question of slowing down (even blocking) the progression of the pathology. "
When the diagnosis of AMD has been made, several solutions exist to prevent the progression of the disease:
- The prescription of anti-oxidation food supplements intended to slow (or stop) the destruction of the macula,
- The realization (by the ophthalmologist) of punctures in the concerned eye, to block the progress of the disease.
In parallel, the ophthalmologist can prescribe orthoptic sessions: " on the one hand, we will put in place strategies to improve the visual comfort of the patient (magnifiers, in particular, to reduce the relative size of the "black spots" present in the field of vision), on the other hand, will start an orthopedic rehabilitation work to optimize the visual efficiency of the patient "says Véronique Morin.
To know : " in case of AMD, we can not recover what has been lost: we can only make sure to see the best with the remaining visual capabilities ".
5 golden rules to prevent AMD
Of course, impossible to act on genetic factors. However, to protect yourself against AMD (which is not an age-related fatality!), Some good reflexes can be adopted on a daily basis:
- Adopt a balanced diet to avoid deficiencies: favor fish (at least 2 to 3 times a week) and fruits and vegetables containing vitamins C and E and carotenoids: carrots, lemon, tomatoes, melon ...
- Practice regular physical activity (swimming, yoga, Nordic walking ...).
- Stop smoking.
- According to a study published in January 2019 in the journal Ophthalmologyadopting a Mediterranean diet would be effective in preventing AMD.
- Make a regular check-up at the ophthalmologist's office: an appointment (at least) every 2 years from 50 years, an appointment per year from 60 years.
Thanks to Véronique Morin, Orthoptist, Optometrist and Optician, Training Manager for theNational Association for the Improvement of the Vision (ASNAV).
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