Macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is an age-related condition that leads to vision loss in the center of the field of vision. Along with glaucoma, AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in Americans 65 and older.
There are two types of macular degeneration:
- Dry Macular Degeneration is the more common form of AMD that causes the center of the retina (macula) to deteriorate resulting in blurred vision. Dry macular degeneration occurs as part of the normal aging process, causing the macular tissue to thin and deposit pigmentation in the center part of the eye, thus distorting your vision.
- Wet Macular Degeneration is not as common as dry AMD, but it is more damaging and can lead to more serious vision loss. Wet macular degeneration occurs when new blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood, which can cause permanent damage and loss of vision.
There are two categories of wet macular degeneration: occult and classic. Occult wet macular degeneration is when the growth of blood vessels is not as prominent and the leakage is less apparent. This is less damaging than classic wet degeneration, which is when the blood vessel growth is very obvious producing noticeable outlines beneath the retina. This produces more severe vision loss.
Generally, AMD is a progressive condition slowly causing vision loss. In rare instances though, symptoms can appear suddenly. If you begin to have difficulty reading in low lighted areas, notice an increase in blurriness in words, recognize an apparent blind spot in the center of your field of vision or begin to notice a decrease in the brightness of colors, you may have macular degeneration.
The exact cause of dry macular degeneration is still unknown, but aging and genetics are suggested contributing factors of this condition. There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but there are treatments available that may help slow down the progression of the disease or possibly even improve vision.
Treatments vary depending on the type and severity of AMD. There are no FDA-approved treatments available for dry AMD, but certain nutritional therapies have shown to help prevent the progression to wet AMD. Treatment for wet AMD uses certain medications that focus on preventing future growth of abnormal blood vessels.