Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration (known as AMD or ARMD) is an incurable eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss in people 55 years and older. Age-related macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the macula, the central portion of the retina, which is responsible for central vision and color vision in the eye. The macula is responsible for the sharp, central vision one needs to read or drive a car.
Age-related macular degeneration usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision in which shadowy, distorted or fuzzy areas appear in the central visual field. Often AMD is detected before any vision loss occurs through retinal exams during your annual check-ups. If your doctor suspects AMD, then testing to measure your central vision may be performed.
What are the differences between Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration?
Approximately 90 percent of age-related macular degeneration cases are diagnosed as dry AMD. Dry AMD may result from the aging and thinning of the macula and pigment disruption in the macula. With dry AMD, central vision loss is usually more gradual and not as severe as wet AMD. However, over time, dry AMD can slowly progress, causing significant vision loss.
Approximately one in ten cases of dry AMD progress to wet AMD, a more damaging form of the disease. With wet macular degeneration, new, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid, causing permanent retinal damage and blind spots in the central visual field. The damage and subsequent vision loss caused by wet AMD can occur rapidly with more severe vision loss.
How is Macular Degeneration treated?
While there is currently no cure for AMD, some treatments may slow its progression and possibly improve vision. There are no FDA approved drugs to treat dry AMD, but many studies suggest that nutritional supplements may help prevent the progression of dry AMD and perhaps, a progression to wet AMD. For wet AMD, several drugs are currently FDA-approved to help stop the blood vessel growth, thus slowing the progression of the disease. Also, laser treatments and a newly FDA-approved implantable device are potential treatment options for advanced dry and wet AMD.
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