Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Simulation photograph: normal vision Simulation photograph: age-related macular degeneration

What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects an individual's central vision. AMD is the most common cause of severe vision loss among people over 60. Because only the center of vision is affected, people rarely go blind from this disease. However, AMD can make it difficult of read, drive, or perform other daily activities that require fine, central vision.

AMD occurs when the macula, which is located in the center of the retina and provides us with sight in the center of our field of vision, begins to degenerate. With less of the macula working, central vision - which is necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and performing close-up work - begins to deteriorate.

What are the different types of AMD?

Picture of a standard eye chart

There are two primary types of AMD:

What are the symptoms of AMD?

The following are the most common symptoms of AMD. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The presence of drusen, tiny yellow deposits in the retina, is one of the most common early signs of AMD. These will be visible to your physician during an eye examination. While the presence of drusen alone does not indicate the disease, it may mean the eye is at risk for developing more severe AMD.

The symptoms of AMD may resemble other eye conditions. Consult a physician for diagnosis.

How is AMD diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and eye examination, your eye care professional may perform the following tests to diagnose AMD:

Illustration of Amsler grid Illustration of Amsler grid as it may appear to someone with age-related macular degeneration
What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.

Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors.

But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.

What are the risk factors for AMD?

Possible risk factors for AMD include:

Treatment for AMD:

Specific treatment for AMD will be determined by your physician based on:

Treatment for wet AMD may include one type of laser surgery in which a high energy beam of light is aimed directly onto the leaking blood vessels to deter further leaking.

Currently, there is no treatment for dry AMD. This does not, however, indicate that sight will automatically be lost, particularly if the AMD affects only one eye. Central vision may eventually be lost or diminished, but generally the rate of loss is slow.

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