What Is Macular Degeneration?

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Macular degeneration (AMD) is a eye disease that interferes with central visual acuity and is more common in older people. Central vision is the vision that people use to read and see objects clearly so the loss of this vision can adversely impact the ability to complete the activities of daily living.

Types - Dry AMD

  • Dry AMD is caused by degeneration of the central retinal (macula) cells; the visual loss from this type of AMD tends to be more gradual.

Types - Wet AMD

  • Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow underneath the retina; these blood vessels bleed easily and the blood causes the damage to the cells in the retina.

Symptoms

  • Symptoms of AMD include blurry central vision or a central blind spot, difficulty with reading, difficulty with dim lights and sudden central vision loss.

Risks

  • Risk factors for AMD include age, being caucasian, being female, family history of relatives with macular degeneration, presence of cigarette smoking and obesity.

Detection

  • While some of the symptoms may suggest that a patient may have AMD, an eye doctor is able to make the diagnosis with an Amsler grid card and a dilated retina exam; there are also some other tests such as a fluoroscein dye test to look at the retina.

Treatment

  • There is no treatment for the dry type of AMD; for wet AMD, there are treatments with varied levels of success: medicines that can be injected into the eye to keep the blood vessels from growing as well as laser therapy and photodynamic therapy (a type of cold laser).

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