Imagine trying to read the time but not seeing the clock’s long and short hands, browsing a book without seeing the text, or looking at a loved one’s face and not recognizing them nor perceiving their expression. Straight lines look wavy or crooked, colors are faded and objects look smaller than usual. This is what people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) usually experience.
AMD is among the leading causes of blindness among senior citizens. According to Asian Eye Institute retina and vitreous disease specialist Dr. Patricia Quilendrino, “while it’s not painful, AMD affects a person’s macula or the central vision. The macula helps you see fine details and recognize colors. We still don’t know the exact cause of this condition, but it’s more likely to develop in women, and people who have family members who’ve had it, those who suffer from hypertension, are overweight and are smokers.”
Dry or wet AMD
Rarely causing total blindness, AMD can be classified as dry or wet. Dry AMD develops with age and takes time to cause vision loss. Wet AMD is less common but is more serious and causes vision loss faster.
Quilendrino says: “It happens when abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina. And because these blood vessels are weak, they may leak blood or other fluids, leading to vision loss or distortion.”
There is no cure yet for AMD, but there are ways to prevent vision loss. People with dry AMD may be given supplements or vitamins and be asked to eat a lot of food rich in nutrients that are good for the eyes, including yellow fruits, dark, leafy greens and fish. For those with wet AMD, they may undergo antivascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) treatment. Anti-VEGFs are injected in the eye to effectively stop the growth of new blood vessels, bleeding and swelling. It is important to remember that when AMD is left untreated, the patient’s vision may get worse.
Effect of pandemic
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has been hard for patients, particularly seniorage parents or grandparents, to seek eye checkup and treatment.
Unfortunately, a recent study shows that delay and lapses in treatment affected the vision of patients. Quilendrino explains: “Results showed that patients who had lapses in treatment had increased thickness in the macula. Although it normalized when they started receiving treatment again, they did not recover the visual acuity they lost.”
Visual acuity refers to the clarity or sharpness of your vision.
“We understand that some patients are still afraid to go out, and it can be challenging especially for those that live in the provinces or those with comorbidities. However, consistent evaluation and treatment are critical to ensure that AMD patients won’t lose their vision. We are also implementing strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure that our patients, their companions and even our team will continue to be safe and healthy,” Quilendrino says.
Safety seal certification
Aside from the standard health screening, physical distancing practices and wearing of PPE, almost 90% of Asian Eye employees have been vaccinated. Many of the clinics have received safety seal certifications from their respective local government units.
“We also have teleconsultation, wherein patients can talk to their eye doctor if they experience changes in vision or eye problems like blurring of vision, eye redness, infection and a lot more,” Quilendrino adds.
In cases where the doctor recommends a clinic checkup after a teleconsultation, the teleconsultation fee is refunded to the patient.
There are things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing or aggravating your AMD. You need to undergo a lifestyle change—manage your hypertension, quit smoking, have a healthy balanced diet, and get your eyes checked at least once a year.