Imagine looking through a pair of dirty binoculars, a spyglass or a window that’s fogged up in the center. That’s what vision can look like to someone with macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60, it gradually diminishes central vision. Because detailed vision is processed by the macula, the central part of the retina, when the macula becomes damaged, daily activities like driving, reading and identifying faces become more difficult and eventually impossible.
There are two forms of macular degeneration: Wet and Dry
The dry form
The dry form is diagnosed in 85 to 90% of cases and it can occur in one eye or in both. The dry form is called “non-neovascular”, because it does not involve the leakage of blood or serum, but the deterioration of the retina, associated with the formation of small yellow deposits, known as drusen, under the macula.
The wet form
Though it occurs in only 10-15% of the cases, it results in 90% of the blindness associated with AMD. Wet AMD comes about when abnormal blood vessels begin growing behind the macula. These fragile vessels will leak fluid into layers of the retina (hence the name “wet” AMD), causing the macula to bulge or lift up from its normally flat position, distorting or destroying central vision. Vision loss from “wet” AMD may be rapid and severe.
While currently there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, those with wet macular degeneration may benefit from intraocular injections.
“With treatment, many patients have visual improvement and most patients are able to maintain their current vision without further vision loss. Without treatment, the condition usually worsens,” said Carl Danzig, MD, Director of Vitreo-Retinal Services at Rand Eye Institute.
AMD is one more reason why it’s so important to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1-2 years.
Next time, we’ll suggest ways to test for AMD and offer some strategies for your best defense and prevention against macular degeneration, during Age-related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month.