Understanding Macular Degeneration or AMD
Your retina is a sensory membrane at the back of your eye that processes light into images. The macula is a part of the retina that is responsible for clear, crisp detail in your central vision. Macular Degeneration causes the macula to deteriorate, resulting in central vision loss when looking straight ahead. AMD is a progressive disease, which means that there may be no noticeable symptoms in the beginning, but patients may gradually experience a loss of clear vision. There is no cure for AMD, but your retina specialist can provide treatment to minimize vision loss. Early detection is very important for successful management of AMD.
Types of AMD
AMD is categorized into two types:
Dry Macular Degeneration
Non-exudative macular degeneration, commonly referred to as dry macular degeneration, accounts for approximately 90% of AMD cases.2 Dry AMD is caused by a thinning of the macula and a growth of protein clumps called drusen. Symptoms of dry AMD tend to be very gradual.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Exudative macular degeneration, or wet AMD, is not as common as dry AMD, and it is typically more severe. Wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth under the retina. These newly formed blood vessels may leak and cause scarring. Vision loss as a result of wet AMD typically occurs faster than it does with dry AMD.
Symptoms of AMD may include:
- Shadows or blind spots in your center field of vision
- Vision that is distorted or fuzzy
- Seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked
- Dulling of colors or fine details
Patients with dry macular degeneration may experience such a slow progression of symptoms that they find themselves trying to adapt to changes in vision.
However, AMD may eventually interfere with daily tasks such as reading, driving, or even interacting with people face-to-face.
How is AMD Diagnosed?
Since AMD symptoms are often gradual, it is very important to have yearly comprehensive eye exams. A dilated eye exam is the best way to detect changes in the retina and the macula. If your eye doctor suspects that you may have AMD, our retina specialists can use special diagnostic tools to determine the type and severity of your AMD:
A small amount of special dye is injected into your bloodstream in order to photograph the flow of blood through your retina. This can show any abnormal blood vessel growth or leakage, which would indicate wet AMD.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Scans are taken of your eye to produce detailed, high-resolution images of your retina. This test can show us if there is any abnormal fluid accumulation or swelling in your eye.
What Treatments Are Available For AMD?
While there is no cure available for AMD, there are treatment options that aim to preserve your vision. Studies show that antioxidant vitamins and minerals can reduce the vision damage caused by dry AMD. Our retina specialists can discuss which nutritional supplements may be effective in preventing vision loss from AMD.
For patients with wet macular degeneration, our eye doctors can administer medications such as Avastin®, Lucentis®, and Eylea® to halt the growth and in cases reverse the damage from these vessels.
Contact Retina Vitreous Associates
The team at Retina Vitreous Associates is dedicated to treating retinal diseases and we have the skill and experience to provide you with the most advanced AMD treatment options. Contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.
1 National Eye Institute. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Data and Statistics. Available: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/eye-health-data-and-statistics/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd-data-and-statistics Accessed July 31, 2020.
2 American Macular Degeneration Foundation. What is Macular Degeneration? Available: https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration Accessed July 21, 2020.
3 Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS): design implications. AREDS report no. 1. Control Clin Trials. 1999;20(6):573-600. doi:10.1016/s0197-2456(99)00031-8