The prognosis varies and depends on each specific case. In general, the early stages evolve slowly and progressively. Patients can maintain an adequate level of vision for years. On the other hand, in some cases advanced dry AMD may affect your central vision.
Advanced wet AMD is very aggressive and should be treated as a matter of urgency, the prognosis is always better if it is detected and treated in initial stages. Otherwise, if it is not treated in time, it will produce scarring in the centre of the macula and in turn an irreversible loss of vision.
Can AMD be prevented?
Stop smoking. Smoking is the main modifiable risk factor.
Eat a Mediterranean diet to reduce the risk of progression to advanced forms. In this regard, vitamin supplements used as a complement to a normal diet have demonstrated a beneficial effect in terms of reducing this risk.
It is very important to monitor any changes in vision. If you notice distortion or a sudden loss of vision, then you should visit the ophthalmologist immediately in order to review your condition.
How to use an AMSLER grid
The Amsler grid test is a very straightforward and useful tool for assessing your central vision. This is because it can detect changes in the centre of the retina very early on that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Position your face approximately 30 cm from the paper or the screen
If you normally wear glasses or contact lens, put them on
Cover one eye
Stare at the point in the centre of the grid.
Repeat the process for the other eye
After completing the test, ask yourself
Did all of the squares appear symmetrical?
Did any lines appear to be twisted or bent?
Did any of the lines appear wavy, blurred or disappear at any point?
If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, then you should visit your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Remember that this test only provides an indication and does not imply a diagnosis.
Do not leave it too late! It is important that you get your vision checked. Visit your ophthalmologist once a year and if you notice any changes in your vision visit your doctor.
Living with visual impairment
Macular degeneration causes distortion or a lack of clarity in your central vision, but it does not lead to blindness because your peripheral or lateral vision remains intact. Reading, using the computer and cooking, for example, may prove a little more difficult, but there are solutions available for each problem.
Humans have a wide visual field, in fact each eye has a range of 150° horizontally and 130° vertically. After suffering a loss of central vision, the area that enables us to see with greatest resolution, you can learn to adapt how you use the healthy peripheral area in order to optimise your overall vision. This is known as peripheral vision training.
Therapists, supported by various different techniques, strategies and resources, provide personalised care to visually impaired patients so that they can go about their daily activities, actively participate in any environment (educational, occupational, cultural, leisure, etc.) and enjoy normal social integration.
Sunlight increases the chances of developing macular degeneration and also accelerates the disease's progression. The use of sunglasses, hats and visors is very important to protect your eyes when outdoors.
Smokers are advised to quit and you should follow a balanced diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables and fish which is also low in animal fats. If you do not follow a varied Mediterranean diet, then your doctor may prescribe vitamin supplements.
To prevent falls around the house it is important to adapt your home with good lighting, avoid glares and try to increase contrast.
It can prove difficult to accept that you have macular degeneration and you may need to make a lot of changes in your life. As a patient with AMD it is important that you are well informed about how to live with the condition and you feel supported, whether by your family, friends, support groups or associations.