Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects the macula.
The macula is the part of the eye that allows us to see fine detail. When the macula is damaged, the central vision may become blurry, distorted or dark.
The macula is located on the retina, the light-sensitive, back, inner lining of the inside of the eye. A healthy macula gives us the sharp, central vision we need for “straight-ahead” activities such as driving or reading.
Macular Degeneration is the result of gradual deterioration of the tissues in the macula. When the macula is damaged, the central vision may become blurry, distorted or dark.
AMD is typically classified into two general types: Dry and Wet. More than 8 out of 10 cases of macular degeneration fall into the “Dry” classification.
Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down over time. Debris from the pigment layer and surrounding tissues accumulates and forms deposits called drusen. The presence of drusen is the first sign of early, DRY AMD. Early symptoms can range from undetectable, to blurring and distortion of the central vision. In the advanced stages of this painless disease, complete central vision loss can occur.
Wet AMD, is more serious than Dry. This form of macular degeneration occurs when the accumulating drusen cause inflammation. The inflamed cells release growth factors which cause abnormal blood vessels to form under the retina. These fragile vessels leak fluid and blood into the layers of the macula, which is where the term “wet” macular degeneration came from. Wet AMD can lead to rapid decrease in vision and if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss.
There are several options available to retinal specialists for the treatment of wet AMD. Currently, there are no FDA approved treatments for dry macular degeneration. However, most eye doctors will offer a proactive plan with numerous preventative measures, including lifestyle adjustments and nutritional recommendations, all aimed at slowing the progression of this vision-robbing eye disease.