Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands.
Types of AMD
This form is quite common. About 80% (8 out of 10) people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD is when parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet.
This form is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.
Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist. He or she can look for early signs of AMD before you have any vision problems.
Treatment options can vary considerably depending on whether you have early or more advanced stages of the disease. Our doctors have extensive experience diagnosing and treating macular degeneration and will work with you to find the best treatment option.
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, many patients with macular degeneration can benefit from certain nutritional supplements. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that a combination of high-dose antioxidants and micronutrients can help slow the progression of macular degeneration.
In patients with the wet form of macular degeneration, injections of medications can stop abnormal blood vessel growth. These injections are administered directly into the eye and can help preserve and sometimes improve your vision. These medications include:
- Avastin® (bevacizumab)
- Eylea® (aflibercept)
- Lucentis® (ranibizumab)
Intraocular injections are performed in our office on the same day of your visit. The procedure is relatively quick and usually does not cause any significant discomfort.
Low Vision Services
In more advanced stages of the disease, low vision services are available to help patients cope with vision loss and help maximize vision.
The information contained here was adapted from EyeSmart – The American Academy of Ophthalmology