Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, has a truly terrifying name but in reality is just another sign that you’re getting older. AMD is most common in adults over 60 years old and primarily affects the center of the visual field, creating blurred or blind spots when looking straight ahead.

AMD can make it difficult for older people to read and recognize faces, but since peripheral vision remains intact it usually doesn’t prevent other activities of day to day life.

Like martinis, AMD comes in two forms: Wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration, also called non-neovascular, is the early form of the disease that begins with an aging and thinning of the macular tissues and a build up of pigment deposits. Dry macular degeneration is typically diagnosed when yellowish spots, called drusen, believed to be debris from deteriorating tissue, begin to accumulate in and around the macula.

Gradual central vision loss from dry macular degeneration will likely get worse over time. Patients may be fitted with specially designed contact lenses or spectacles to assist with center-weighted vision correction.

Wet macular degeneration, also called neovascular, accounts for roughly 10 percent of macular degeneration cases and is a far more serious condition that can lead to a more severe vision loss. In this type of AMD new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid into the macular area of the eye. This leakage causes the light sensitive retinal cells to die off, which creates blind spots in central vision.

With wet macular degeneration, your body is actually trying to make things better by trying to build a new network of blood vessels to get more oxygen and nutrients to the eye. Instead of helping, the process leads to scarring and sometimes a complete loss of central vision.

Prevention: Quit Smoking, Get Exercise

Treatment of AMD will depend on which type of the disease is indicated and how early it is discovered.

The treatment of wet macular degeneration might include laser surgery, in a small number of cases, or one of several drug therapies.

Like many diseases, the best treatment for AMD of any type is prevention and early diagnosis. Some of the risk factors associated with AMD are obesity, inactivity, smoking and high blood pressure. So quitting smoking and getting some exercise can go a long way toward prevention and you’ll feel better overall.

There is also some evidence to suggest that a proper diet and good nutrition can go a long way toward mitigating the chances of getting AMD, so perhaps there’s another motivation for making changes to your diet that you might have been thinking about anyway.