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What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

January 10, 2018

WHAT IS AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with the retina and it happens when the part of the retina called the macula is damaged. The macula is a small area at the center of the retina that gives us our pinpoint central vision. The area of retina surrounding the macula gives us our peripheral vision. AMD is a breakdown of the macula. When the macula doesn't work properly, your central vision can be diminished. You can not see fine details, regardless of whether you are looking at something close or far away. Your peripheral vision (side vision) will remain normal. For example, imagine looking at the face of a standard clock, you might see the clock's numbers , however you will not be able to see the hands. 

There are two types of AMD

DRY AMD

Dry AMD is very common. Approximately 80% (8 out of 10) people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD is typically described as when the parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen grow. The result of this is a slow loss of central vision. There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.

WET AMD

Wet AMD is less common, however it is  more serious. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or fluids in turn causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.

Many people do not even realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have routine visits with your ophthalmologist, as they can look for early signs of AMD well before you incur any vision problems.