Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
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.
Who Is at Risk for AMD?
You are more likely to develop AMD if you:
- eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter and cheese)
- are overweight
- cigarette smoker
- are over 50 years old
- have hypertension (high blood pressure)
- have a family history of AMD
- having heart disease is another risk factor for AMD, as is having high cholesterol levels.
If you're in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration you may not have symptoms. The first sign you may notice is a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision or that straight lines appear distorted to you. This may gradually turn into a dramatic loss of your central vision.
Other symptoms include:
- Dark, blurry areas or whiteout that appears in the center of your vision
- In rare cases, you may have a change in your perception of color
What is the treatment?
There's no cure, but treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may slow the disease and keep you from having a severe loss of vision.
Your Treatment Options
Anti-angiogenic drugs: Your doctor injects these medications into your eye. They stop new blood vessels from forming and block the leaking from the abnormal vessels that cause wet macular degeneration.
Laser therapy: Your doctor may suggest a treatment with high-energy laser light that can sometimes destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels from AMD.
Diagnosis & Tests Available
Optical coherence tomography (OCT): It's a special photograph that shows a magnified 3D image of your retina. This method helps your doctor see if your retinal layers are distorted. He can also see if swelling is getting better or worse if you had treatment with injections or laser.
Fluorescein angiography: In this procedure, your doctor injects a dye into a vein in your arm. He takes photos as the dye reaches your eye and flows through the blood vessels of the retina. The images will show new vessels or vessels that are leaking fluid or blood in the macula -- a small area at the center of your retina.
Myths / Frequently Asked Questions
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. ... The following are NOT known to be linked to macular degeneration: floaters (moving spots caused by debris floating in the vitreous fluid between the lens and the retina); dry eye syndromes; cataracts and cataract surgery.