Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) occurs when there is a breakdown in the macula, the very center of the retina inside the eye. The macula has the greatest density of light sensitive cells and is the only part of the retina capable of seeing fine details. AMD does not affect peripheral vision, but it does affect both distance and close vision when you are looking straight ahead. This makes many daily activities, such as reading a book and driving a car, difficult, and even impossible for some. Patients with severe macular degeneration do not go completely blind, but they are considered legally blind.
Dry age related macular degeneration is the most common of the 2 types of AMD. In fact, 90 percent of AMD patients are diagnosed with this dry form. It is diagnosed when cells and blood vessels underneath the macula break down and cause yellowish deposits, known as drusen, in the macula. It is this drusen that causes a loss of central vision. Dry AMD usually causes a slow, gradual deterioration of vision unlike the acute symptoms of the wet form of AMD.
Wet age related macular degeneration is the more serious of the 2 forms of AMD, and occurs in about 10 percent of cases. With wet AMD, sometimes known as neovascular AMD, there is abnormal blood vessel growth beneath the retina. It is caused when the body responds to the lack of nutrients and oxygen in the retina by forming a new network of blood vessels. As the blood vessels grow, they can leak blood, causing scarring and permanently damaging light-sensitive retinal cells. Eventually these cells die, which creates a large black spot in the central vision.
We are lucky that we live in an age of more treatments for wet AMD than ever before. Drugs such as Eylea, Lucentis, Avastin and Beovu have made a tremendous difference in the positive prognosis of Wet Macular Degeneration patients. All three of these injectable drugs are termed anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medicines. They have shown to slow vision loss and sometimes even restore a degree of the some lost vision in “wet” macular degeneration patients.
These drugs work by blocking an essential signal that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow and leak. They are given at different intervals, according to each individual drug’s criteria and each patient’s unique clinical characteristics. They can also be used for other retinal conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusions.
Unlike dry AMD, wet AMD can cause rapid changes in vision. In fact, a change in vision from one day to the next is quite possible. That is the reason that we recommend that all patients with AMD, both wet and dry, use either the Amsler grid or the ForeseeHome Monitoring System everyday. If you notice a change in the grid that has occurred over a day or two, it could be the start of wet macular degeneration and you should contact us quickly. Alternatively, the ForeseeHome Monitoring technology will automatically detect any changes and inform your retinal specialist of these changes, we are then able to contact you immediately for an evaluation.
The key to saving sight is through early detection and treatment. This is especially true with Dry AMD patients that have the potential to convert to Wet AMD. ForeseeHome Monitoring Program can detect changes in the retina before the eye may notice it.
The Amsler Grid has long been the industry standard for home vision monitoring. While it is still a good way to keep a daily check on your vision, there is also a new way for Dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) patients to monitor any at-home vision changes between eye exam appointments.
An Amsler Grid is a way for you to test your vision at home, in order to monitor changes and seek treatment immediately if you have vision changes. It is a simple test and should be performed daily. We suggest that you just make it a part of your daily regimen so that you don’t forget to do it.
We often see people mount the Amsler Grid on their refrigerator doors or a mirror and perform the following steps:
If you see any wavy, distorted or missing line, please call us 1-866-865-2020 as soon as possible for an appointment.
The Amsler Grid is always given to macular degeneration patients, but we also feel that all patients can benefit by its use, especially those with diabetes.
ForseeHome has been around for a few years, but now it is Medicare approved for Dry AMD patients to monitor their vision at home.
We have always given all our AMD patients an Amsler Grid, but now there is new advanced technology for home monitoring. The ForeseeHome Monitoring Program is the first FDA and Medicare approved home monitoring system that is available by prescription. It is more sensitive than an amsler grid and it actually notifies your doctor of even the smallest changes in your vision. Someone from our office will then contact you immediately for an appointment with your doctor.
The ForeseeHome also has another advantage over the amsler grid in that it prevents your brain from compensating for visual defects that you might have become accustomed to.
The test only takes 3 minutes and is done in the comfort of your own home to detect signs of changes/progression in your dry macular degeneration. ForeseeHome does not require a home computer or internet connection. All you do is simply plug it into a power outlet.
ForeseeHome detects these changes before you notice them yourself, allowing your doctor to monitor your vision for any changes between regularly scheduled exams.