Treatment of Macular Degeneration
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that affects a tiny area in the center of the retina known as the macula. The macula is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that help to produce sharp central vision. AMD breaks down these cells, gradually destroying central vision.
It is estimated that over 13 million Americans over the age of 40 show early signs of AMD, and it is the leading cause of legal blindness and vision impairment in the senior population. AMD occurs in two forms - wet and dry - with women being at a higher risk for developing both wet and dry AMD, than men. Age is the most important factor and has been shown to be strongly linked to AMD. Other risk factors are:
- cigarette smoking
- diet with saturated fat and cholesterol
- family member with AMD
- one eye already suffered from AMD
- excessive sunlight exposure
90% of individuals diagnosed with AMD have the dry form. The light sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, affecting central vision over time. Dry AMD often occurs in just one eye at first, and doctors have no way of knowing when, or if, both eyes will be affected.
Dry AMD will never cause complete blindness because it only affects the central vision. Patients with dry AMD will always have peripheral vision as long as no other eye disease is present. It does cause daily tasks like reading and driving to be difficult.
Only 10% of individuals diagnosed with AMD have the wet form, and it is this form of AMD that accounts for 90% of all blindness. New blood vessels behind the retina begin to grow toward the macula. These vessels are very fragile and often leak blood and fluid under the macula, rapidly causing the damage that leads to loss of central vision.
Ophthalmologists are unsure what causes macular degeneration. The most common symptom of dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. As the disease progresses, a blurred spot forms in the center of your vision gradually becoming larger and darker, reducing central vision. Straight lines that appear wavy are early symptoms of wet AMD, often followed by a rapid loss of central vision. As in dry AMD, you may also notice a blind spot. Neither dry, nor wet AMD causes any pain.
- blurring of central vision
- distortion of objects
- straight lines appear wavy
- central blind spot
It is very important to call our office immediately if you notice any of the symptoms shown above as early discovery can preserve vision. AMD is detected through a comprehensive eye examination during which Dr. Schneider will examine the health of your retina. Once AMD is detected, additional testing may be recommended by Dr. Schneider to assess the progression of the disease, and to determine the best treatment plan.