Misconceptions about AMD
OK, let’s talk about some thoughts and ideas about AMD that are simply wrong and deserve to be exposed and discussed. I recently read an article on this website by Dan Brown that did a great job explaining this topic. Let’s dive right in!
Some misconceptions about AMD
- AMD causes blindness. This is not true, at worst, we will lose our central vision while our peripheral vision remains intact. This has already happened to me, in one eye anyway. My left eye went from intermediate dry AMD to GA (geographic atrophy) this past year. The vision in this eye is now 20/400 (with 20/200 being considered legally blind) but my peripheral vision is as good as it ever was.
- AMD is a growing epidemic. No way Jose! The ratio is improving over the last three generations, possibly attributed to treatment, diet and lifestyle changes. That said, the number of people with vision impairment or blindness in the United States is expected to double by the year 2050. (Which just so happens, will be my 101st birthday!...but I digress).
- Wet and dry AMD are separate diseases. Only about 10-15% of those with dry AMD go on to develop wet AMD. Wet AMD is secondary to age-related macular degeneration. Wet AMD involves our bodies producing errant and unnecessary blood vessels in the macula that can cause bleeding and fluid in our macula. Thankfully these tiny vessels can be “chemically cauterized“ by injections of anti-VEGF medicines. This sight-saving procedure has been in existence for just a little over 20 years and is the major tool in the arsenals of our eye docs!
- Reading in dim light will make AMD worse. This also is not true. We do need more light than a normal healthy person but we will cause no damage in dim light settings.
- Viewing cell phones, television, and computer screens damages our eyes. Actually, the sun and full spectrum lamps which imitate full sunlight are two of the strongest and potentially most damaging sources of blue light. By comparison, the blue light from our TV’s and devices are far less than the full sun or sun lamps. So, think sunglasses people! Sunglasses are a must for we VIP’s!
More common AMD misconceptions
As I don’t want to bore you out of your skull, let me summarize a few more fallacies that seem to endure.
- Cataract surgery causes AMD. Nope, not true! There has been a lot of recent research on this topic by retinal surgeons and the like and this adage has been debunked.
- Stem cell replacement can cure AMD. Although promising and in clinical trials now, we know that the replacement of our RPE (retinal pigment epithelium) layer that supports the sight cells (photoreceptors) is on the horizon. It will improve our vision per see, but not cure us of the underlying AMD. Gene therapies also in clinical trials hold the promise of correcting our underlying cause of AMD. So think help...not cure.
- Anti-VEGF drugs for wet AMD will reverse vision loss. Think of the use of these drugs through injections as “holding our disease at bay” versus reversing vision loss. Yes, they’re a wonderful tool but they help, not cure.
I've bombarded you with a lot and I hope I didn’t get too windy and bore the socks off you. But there are many things in the pipeline we can be hopeful about. There are some bogus assumptions floating around out there too and we need to sift through what is fact from fiction. I wish us all well on our journey.
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