Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive disease that affects the macula, the region of the retina responsible for central vision and fine detail. It is very common in adults ages 55 years or older. As the macula deteriorates, the central field of vision can develop dark, blurry or distorted areas. The visual effects of AMD can make it challenging to recognize faces or read a newspaper or book.
Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, the disease can be managed with the help of a reputable ophthalmologist, like Dr. Gregory Johnson of Intracoastal Eye.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
The exact cause of macular degeneration is still largely unknown. Experts believe both hereditary and environmental factors may be to blame for the deterioration of the macular cells.
The disease is more likely to occur in adults over the age of 55, and those with a family history of AMD. It is more common in Caucasians than African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans. Smoking and being overweight are also thought to be risk factors for AMD.
Wet versus Dry Macular Degeneration
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 80 percent of cases of AMD are the dry or less serious form. In dry AMD, areas of the macula thin with age and protein can clump together, forming drusen. Visual clarity slowly deteriorates, and as areas of the macula start to die, blank spots can appear in central vision.
Wet AMD is the rarer and more serious form of the disease. New, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and macula and can leak blood or fluid. This can cause swelling or scarring on the macula. People with wet AMD are more likely to lose vision faster than those with dry AMD. Dark spots can appear in the central field of vision due to blood or fluid accumulating under the macula. Another symptom of wet and dry AMD is that straight lines can appear wavy.
The Diagnosis and Treatment of AMD
AMD is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam and testing using advanced technology. Dr. Johnson uses high-definition optical coherence tomography to scan the retina and obtain very detailed images of the retina and macula. The Amsler grid, which is a square containing a grid pattern and dot in the middle, can also be used to show problem areas in the visual field. Someone with AMD may notice that the lines of the Amsler grid look wavy or have blank spots.
Currently there is no cure for wet or dry AMD. However, some people with dry AMD take nutritional supplements specifically formulated with certain vitamins and minerals to slow the progression of AMD. Although these supplements cannot eliminate AMD altogether, they may stave off loss of vision to the disease. In cases of wet AMD, special anti-VEGF drugs can be injected into the eyes to reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and macula. Sometimes laser therapy is used to seal off leaking blood vessels and reduce the number of vessels.
Contact Intracoastal Eye
For more information about wet and dry AMD, please contact Dr. Johnson at Intracoastal Eye today. You can call (910) 777-8254 or send us an email.