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Norwich Ophthalmology Group
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the central portion of the retina and choroid, the inside back layer of the eye. The retina’s small central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye. Macular degeneration leads to a substantial loss in visual acuity and is the leading cause of significant visual acuity loss in people over the age of 50. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.
The deterioration of the retina is associated with the formation of small yellow deposits, known as drusen, under the macula. In early stages, vision changes may be hard to notice. Over time your central vision worsens. You may notice the need for more light when reading, and difficulty recognizing faces until very close to the person.
Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow from the choroid (the layer of blood vessels between the retina and the outer firm coat of the eye called the sclera) under and into the macular portion of the retina.These new blood vessels may then bleed and leak fluid, causing the macula to bulge or lift up from its normally flat position, thus distorting or destroying central vision. Under these circumstances, vision loss may be rapid and severe.
The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. During your exam your doctor will look for drusen and the appearance of pigmentary changes under the retina.
Your doctor also may ask you to look at an Amsler Grid. Changes in your central vision may cause the lines in the grid to disappear or appear wavy, a sign of AMD.
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