Overview

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease which may get worse over time. It’s the leading cause of severe, permanent  loss of vision in people over age 60.

It happens when the small central portion of your retina, called the macula wears down. The retina is the nerve tissue that  senses the light at the back of your eye.

it’s often called age-related macular degeneration because the disease happens as you get older. It doesn’t usually cause blindness but could cause severe vision problems.

Another type of macular degeneration, called Stargardt disease or juvenile macular degeneration, affects children and young adults.

Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration

There are two  types of age-related macular degeneration:

  • Dry form: People with this may have yellow deposits in their macula, called drusen. A few small drusen may not cause in your vision to change. But as they get bigger and more numerous, they can dim or distort your vision, especially when you read. As the situation gets worse, the light-sensitive cells in your macula get thinner and eventually die. You may have blind spots in the center of your vision, in the atrophic form,. As that gets worse, you may lose central vision.
  • Wet form. Blood vessels grow from underneath your macula. These blood vessels wetting blood and fluid into your retina. Your vision is distorted so that straight lines appear wavy. You may also have blind spots and loss of central vision. These blood vessels and their bleeding eventually form a scar, resulting in permanent loss of central vision.

Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form, and the dry form can lead to the wet form. Only about 10% of people suffering from macular degeneration get the wet form.

If you having macular degeneration, you’ll need to monitor your eyesight properly and see your eye doctor regularly.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Early on, you might not get any noticeable signs of macular degeneration. It might not be treated until it gets worse or affects both eyes.

Macular degeneration Symptoms may include:

  • Worse or less clear vision. Your vision might be blurred, and it may be difficult to read fine print or drive.
  • Dark, blurry areas in the center of your vision
  • Sometimes, worse or different color perception

If you have some these symptoms, go to an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Causes of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is more common in older people. It’s the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over 60 years old.

Macular degeneration may relate to your genes. If someone in your family does, your risk might be higher.

Also risk factors are smoking, having high blood pressure or high cholesterolobesity, eating lots of saturated fat, being light-skinned, being female, and having a light eye color.

 Diagnosis

A regular eye examinatin can spot age-related macular degeneration. One of the most common early signs is drusen tiny yellow spots under your retina or pigment clumping. 

Your doctor may also ask you to looking at an Amsler grid, a pattern of straight lines that resembles a checkerboard. Some of the straight lines may seem wavy to you, or you may notice that some of the lines are missing. These may be signs of macular degeneration.

If your doctor finds macular degeneration related to age, you may have a procedure called angiography or one called OCT. Your doctor injects dye into a vein in your arm during angiography. They take photographs while dye flows through the blood vessels in your retina. If there are new vessels or vessels that are leaking fluid or blood in your macula, the photos will show their exact location and type. OCT can see fluid or blood underneath your retina without dye.

It is important to see your eye doctor regularly to find signs of macular degeneration early. Treatment can slow, or make the condition less severe.

What Treatments Are Available for Macular Degeneration?

There is no cure for macular degeneration. Treatment can slow down or keep you from losing too much of your vision. Your options may include:

  • Anti-angiogenesis drugs. These medicine are injected in the eye.These medicines aflibercept , bevacizumab , pegaptanib , and ranibizumab  block the formation of blood vessels and stop the leaking from the vessels in your eye that cause wet macular degeneration. Many people who have took those drugs got back vision that was lost. You may need to have this treatment multiple times.
  • Laser therapy. High-energy laser light can destroy abnormal blood vessels that growing in your eye.
  • Photodynamic laser therapy. Your doctor injects a light-sensitive drug verteporfin (Visudyne)  into your bloodstream, and it’s absorbed by the irregular blood vessels. The doctor then shines a laser into your eye to trigger the medication to damage those blood vessels.
  • Low vision aids. These are devices that have special lenses or electronic systems to create larger images of things nearby. They help people who have vision loss due to macular degeneration make the most of their remaining vision.

Researchers are studying new treatments for macular degeneration, but they are experimental. They include:

  • Submacular surgery. This removes irregular blood vessels or blood.
  • Retinal translocation. A procedure for destroying abnormal blood vessels under the center of your macula, where your doctor can’t use a laser beam safely. In this procedure, your doctor rotates the middle of your macula away from the abnormal blood vessels to a healthy area of your retina. This keeps you from having scar tissue and more damaging to your retina. Then, your doctor uses a laser to treat the abnormal vessels in the blood.

 

Macular Degeneration Prevention

Try these prevention tips:

    • Check your sight every day by looking at an Amsler grid, a straight line pattern that is like a chessboard. It can help you detect changes in your vision.
    • Quit smoking, eat a balanced diet that includes green leafy vegetables, and protect your eyes with sunglasses that block harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Supplements with antioxidants vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and copper may reduce the chances of getting AMD, according to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study.
  • If you are over 65, your eye exams must include AMD tests.