Friday, March 10, 2006

AMD What to do 131

Chapter Eight
What Should You Do Now?


How to Keep up on the Latest in AMD

The first thing we suggest you do is determine your risk. If you have a parent or sibling with AMD, then your risk is higher for the disease. But not having a relative with the disease doesn’t mean that you will never get AMD. You should have your eyes examined by an eye doctor. I would tell the doctor that you wish to know if you have any signs of AMD. The doctor must dilate your pupils to get a good look at your retina. Many eye doctors will be willing to take a picture of your maculas if you wish. If the doctor sees any medium- or large-size drusen, then you’re at risk of vision loss. We are not sure whether having a few tiny drusen means you have the disease or not.

The Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) broke down the risk of vision loss in terms of whether or not there was the presence of one large druse and whether or not there was pigmentation. Experts examined all of the photographs in the study and developed a point system to estimate the risk of developing advanced AMD over 5 years. The presence of one large drusen in an eye was one point. If both eyes had large drusen, that was two points. The presence of pigmentation in the macula was also one point and if it was present in both eyes, again, it was two points. That means a patient could have up to a total of four points. Please go back to Chapter One to see photos of patients who have large drusen and pigmentation.

The risk of developing severe AMD over the next five years in at least one eye was 0.5 percent in patients who had neither large drusen nor pigmentation in either eye (zero points). The risk was 3 percent over five years for patients who had one point; 12 percent for patients who had two points; 25 percent for patients with three points; and 50 percent for patients who had four points. That is why we suggested in Chapter One that you ask your doctor whether you have any large drusen or pigmentation in either eye.

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