What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the retina responsible for central vision. Without a healthy macula, visual tasks that requires the ability to see fine detail become difficult, such as reading, recognizing faces, driving, watching television, and using a phone or other devices. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans who are 40 years of age and up.
What are the different types of age-related macular degeneration?
AMD is diagnosed as either "dry" or "wet."
- Dry AMD: This early stage of the disease generally is associated with slow central vision loss. It may result from aging and thinning of macular tissues, depositing of pigment in the macula, or a combination of the two. Over time, drusen, which are yellowish spots believed to be deposits or debris from deteriorating macular tissue, begin to accumulate in and around the macula. Eye doctors use the appearance of drusen to diagnose dry AMD. The first noticeable symptom of dry AMD may be a small dark spot in your central vision, making such activities as reading and night driving difficult.
- Wet AMD: In some cases, dry AMD progresses to the more advanced and damaging wet form. Wet AMD involves the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina, which leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent scarring, which often leads to severe central vision loss. Symptoms of wet AMD include blurred, wavy, or distorted vision. Because wet-form degeneration can progress rapidly and lead to permanent vision loss, early diagnosis is critical.
What is the Amsler Grid?
The Amsler Grid, shown below, is a simple tool to help test the macula. While focusing on the dot in the center of the grid, with one eye covered, answer the following questions:
- Am I able to see the corners and sides of the square?
- Do I see any wavy lines? Are there any holes or missing areas?
If the grid lines do not look straight, or areas appear to be missing or distorted, you should inform an eye specialist.
How is age-related macular degeneration treated?
While there is no cure for AMD, with early detection, some treatment options are available that may stabilize and delay the progression of the disease. Grossnickle Eye Center provides the most current treatment options for wet macular degeneration, including intra-vitreal injections.