Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Macular degeneration develops when the part of the retina called the macula begins to deteriorate, causing loss of vision in the center of the visual field. (It typically does not affect peripheral vision.) Macular dystrophies can affect younger patients; however, the term usually refers to age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.
Types of AMD
Macular degeneration is classified as either “wet” or “dry” AMD. In the “wet” type, abnormal blood vessels develop behind the retina and macula and begin to bleed, causing the macula to bulge out. This eventually destroys the central portion of the person’s vision. Wet AMD progresses rapidly. The “dry” type is significantly more common and usually related to aging. This kind of deterioration of the retina is caused by the formation of small deposits, or drusen, beneath the macula. Dry AMD causes the macula to dry and thin out, in turn, inhibiting its ability to function properly. If not treated, Dry AMD can progress into severe wet AMD.
Your eye doctor can perform a number of tests to see if you have AMD. Similar tests can also determine the specific type and progression of the disease. If you experience dimming vision when reading, straight lines appear wavy, or see an empty or dark area in the center of your vision, then you should ask your ophthalmologist about being tested for AMD.
Currently, there is no true cure for either type of AMD. Injections called angiogenesis inhibitors are prescribed to some wet AMD patients as well as photodynamic therapy and laser photocoagulation. Patients can sometimes participate in clinical research for possible AMD treatments. Dry AMD patients can also try certain dietary supplements shown to slow the progression of the disease.