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Age-related Macular Degeneration

What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp central vision. We need central vision to see objects clearly and to perform common daily tasks such as reading and driving. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.

There is no pain associated with AMD, and it can advance so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. However, others find that the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. Risk factors for AMD include being more than 50 years old, a family history of AMD, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

Macular degeneration affects the macula, which is the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. The macula is located in the center of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina converts light (an image) into electrical impulses and sends these impulses, or nerve signals, to the brain.

Ophthalmologists divide age-related macular degeneration into two types: wet AMD and dry AMD.

What is Wet AMD?

About ten percent of all cases of age-related macular degeneration are classified as wet. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye and cause rapid damage to the macula. With wet AMD, also known as advanced AMD, loss of central vision can occur quickly. It does not have stages like dry AMD.

What is Dry AMD?

About ninety percent of all age-related macular degeneration is classified as dry. Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, you will gradually lose central vision in the affected eye.

Is AMD treatable?

Various treatments, such as eye injections, provided by a retinal ophthalmologist may minimize or prevent vision loss caused by AMD. Contact Retina Vitreous Associates in Illinois or Indiana to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.