What is age-related macular degeneration?

Where is the macula?

What is wet AMD?

What is dry AMD?

Can I have both dry and wet AMD?

What are drusen?

 

AMD Treatment

Avastin

Lucentis for Wet AMD

 

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Retina and Macula

Wet AMD

Dry AMD

Amsler Grid

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Wet AMD

 

Eye Anatomy

List of Diseases

 

Information provided courtesy of the
National Eye Institute, US National Institutes of Health

 
 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)


What is age-related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving.

AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD causes no pain.

In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.

The influence of genes in causing age-related macular degeneration is becoming more apparent. We currently believe heredity plays a major role with environmental factors contributing as well.

AMD occurs in two forms: wet and dry.

amd1 amd2

Normal vision

The same scene as viewed by a person with age-related macular degeneration

 


Where is the macula?

The macula is located in the center of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina instantly converts light, or an image, into electrical impulses. The retina then sends these impulses, or nerve signals, to the brain.
[Eye Anatomy]

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Retina and Macula

 


What is wet AMD?

Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye. Damage to the macula occurs rapidly.

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Wet AMD

With wet AMD, loss of central vision can occur quickly. Wet AMD is also known as advanced AMD. It does not have stages like dry AMD.

An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy. If you notice this condition or other changes to your vision, contact your eye care professional at once. You need a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

 


What is dry AMD?

Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye.

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Dry AMD

The most common symptom of dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. You may have difficulty recognizing faces. You may need more light for reading and other tasks. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected. One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen.

 


Can I have both dry and wet AMD?

Yes. All patients with AMD start out with dry AMD. Over the course of a lifetime about 10% to 20% of patients with dry AMD develop the wet form of the disease. It is important that you know that the changes of dry AMD may continue to progress even after you develop wet AMD. It is also important to understand that wet AMD always develops in a patient with previous dry AMD. So if you have the dry form and you notice new symptoms do not assume these new symptoms are due to progression of the dry changes. Let your doctor know so that he or she can determine if wet AMD has developed and if you need treatment.

 


What are drusen?

Drusen are yellow deposits under the retina. They often are found in people over age 60. Your eye care professional can detect drusen during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Drusen alone do not usually cause vision loss. In fact, scientists are unclear about the connection between drusen and AMD. They do know that an increase in the size or number of drusen raises a person's risk of developing either advanced dry AMD or wet AMD. These changes can cause serious vision loss.

Dry AMD has three stages, all of which may occur in one or both eyes:

1. Early AMD
People with early AMD have either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. At this stage, there are no symptoms and no vision loss.

2. Intermediate AMD
People with intermediate AMD have either many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen. Some people see a blurred spot in the center of their vision. More light may be needed for reading and other tasks.

3. Advanced Dry AMD
In addition to drusen, people with advanced dry AMD have a breakdown of light-sensitive cells and supporting tissue in the central retinal area. This breakdown can cause a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and darker, taking more of your central vision. You may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces until they are very close to you.

 

If you have vision loss from dry AMD in one eye only, you may not notice any changes in your overall vision. With the other eye seeing clearly, you still can drive, read, and see fine details. You may notice changes in your vision only if AMD affects both eyes. If blurriness occurs in your vision, see an eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Ninety percent of all people with AMD have this type. Scientists are still not sure what causes dry AMD.