Macular degeneration is an eye disease associated with ageing. It is most commonly referred to as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.
AMD occurs in two forms: wet and dry.
Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula (called Choroidal Neovascularization). These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. Fluid, in turn, interferes with the function and health of the retinal cells.
Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but may be asymmetric between the two eyes. Ninety percent of all people with AMD have the dry form, although the dry form can turn into the wet form.
Who is at risk for AMD?
The greatest risk factor is age. The incidence of AMD in patients over age 75 is 30%. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, race (Caucasian) and having a relative with AMD.
Can my lifestyle make a difference?
Yes, you can lower your chance of developing AMD by eating a healthy diet with fish and vegetables, not smoking, keeping your weight and blood pressure under good control and routine eye exams. This allows your Shah Eye specialist to track your progress and determine treatment options.
How is AMD detected?
AMD is detected during an eye exam with dilating drops. Often special testing (e.g., fluorescein angiography or optical coherence tomography can aid in the diagnosis and treatment plan.
How is wet AMD treated?
Wet AMD can be treated with laser, photodynamic therapy and anti-photodynamic therapy. These treatments are not cures for wet AMD. The disease and loss of vision may progress despite treatment.
How is dry AMD treated?
Once dry AMD reaches the advanced stage, no form of treatment can prevent vision loss. However, treatment with vitamins and minerals can delay and possibly prevent intermediate AMD from progressing to the advanced stage, in which vision loss occurs.
More information about AMD?
See your Shah Eye Center eye specialist or visit to The National Eye Institute www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.asp