- Age related macular degeneration is a condition of the eye that is often related to aging and is commonly referred to age related macular degeneration, abbreviated as AMD.
- In AMD, the macula of the eye is affected. The macula is located at the center of the retina, alight-sensitive tissue which lines the back of the eye. The retina receives images of external objects then sends them as impulses to the brain.
- The macula provides us with central vision and allows us to see fine detail, such as recognizing a face, reading or watching television. When the macula becomes damaged, extreme and dramatic vision loss can occur.
Age related macular degeneration is the most frequent cause of vision loss among people 50 years and older in the United States. Many older people are unaware that they have AMD and may not notice that their vision is deteriorating, particularly if only one eye is affected. Other people may fail to report vision loss because they believe it to be an inevitable consequence of aging.
If patients with certain types of AMD are to benefit from recent developments in treatment, it is important that the condition be diagnosed as early as possible.
Two basic types of macular generation:
- Non-neovascular AMD (also known as ‘dry’ AMD) is characterized by drusen, which appear as small yellow deposits underneath the retina. Non-neovascular AMD rarely causes severe vision loss unless central atrophy develops. However, certain changes may occur in these drusen that are more serious and need to be watched and treated immediately.
- Approximately 90% of patients with severe vision loss from AMD have the neovascular form (also known as ‘wet’ or ‘exudative’ AMD). Neovascular AMD is characterized by the presence of choroidal neovascularization (CNV), which develops when abnormal new blood vessels proliferate underneath the retina. These abnormal vessels leak fluid and blood into the tissues, and scar tissue will form. Loss of vision may occur unless treated. The main symptoms of neovascular AMD are deterioration in central vision, blind spots, and a distortion of vision.
There are several forms of treatment for both of these conditions and should be checked for yearly for people over the age of 50, particularly if a patient has noticed any loss of vision or has a family history of macular degeneration.