| Risk Factors
The retina is the tissue that lines the back of the eye. It sends visual signals to the brain. The macula is part of the retina. It is responsible for central vision. Macular degeneration is destruction of the macula. It causes a gradual loss of sharp, central vision. The condition is mainly a disease of aging. In rare cases, it can occur in younger people.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There are two types of adult (or age-related) macular degeneration (AMD):
- Dry AMD—This occurs when an area of the retina becomes diseased. This leads to a slow breakdown of cells in the macula. The central vision is gradually lost. Dry AMD accounts for the majority of cases.
- Wet AMD—As dry AMD worsens, new blood vessels may begin to grow. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid under the macula. This can lead to permanent damage of the macular region. Wet AMD is uncommon. But, it accounts for the majority of blindness from this disease.
The cause of AMD is not known.
Generally risk increases with age. AMD is most commonly seen in the white population and in senior citizens. Other factors that may increase your chance of getting AMD include:
In some people, AMD advances very slowly. It has little effect on their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster. It may lead to significant vision loss. Neither dry AMD nor wet AMD causes pain.
Symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty seeing details in front of you, such as faces or words in a book
- Blurred vision that goes away in brighter light
- A small, but growing blind spot in the middle of your field of vision
- Straight lines (such as door frames) appear crooked or distorted
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A
will be done. The doctor may suspect AMD if you are older and have had recent changes in your central vision. A specialist will look for signs of the disease. The doctor will use eye drops to dilate (enlarge) your pupils. This will allow a view of the back of the eye.
You may also be asked to view an Amsler grid. This is a pattern that looks like a checkerboard. Changes in your central vision will cause the grid to appear distorted. This is a sign of AMD.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment options for you. Options may include:
Research has suggested certain high-dose vitamins and minerals may slow the progression of the disease in some people.
This procedure is used in some cases of wet AMD. A strong laser light beam is aimed at the new blood vessels. The beam destroys the vessels. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete. You may need more laser treatments. This treatment is used less often since the development of newer treatments.
This procedure is a type of treatment that involves injecting a light-sensitive dye into your blood. The affected areas in the back of the eye are then hit with a special laser light. The light activates the dye to destroy certain blood vessels. It also takes less than 30 minutes. You may need to have additional treatments.
Another way to treat wet AMD is an injection of a special medication. It is called a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor. The medicine is injected into the vitreous (fluid) in the back of the eye. It usually needs to be repeated multiple times.
There are no current guidelines to prevent AMD.
For overall eye health:
- Have regular eye exams. The exams should include dilation to closely look at the retina.
If you smoke, talk with your doctor about how you can
- Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.
omega-3 fatty acid
Age-related macular degeneration. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 23, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2013.
Adult macular degeneration. Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.eyesight.org/Macular_Degeneration/Adult_MD/adult_md.html. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Age-related macular degeneration. National Eye Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/index.asp. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Liew G, Mitchell P, et al. Ranibizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
N Engl J Med. 2006;355:1419-1431.
11/1/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance.
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what: Wormald R, Evans J, et al. Photodynamic therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007;(4).
3/6/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance.
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what: Sui GY, Liu GC, Liu GY, et al. Is sunlight exposure a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Br J Ophthalmol. 2012 Nov 10. [Epub ahead of print].
3/11/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance.
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what: Christen WG, Glynn RJ, Sesso HD, et al. Vitamins E and C and medical record-confirmed age-related macular degeneration in a randomized trial of male physicians.
Ophthalmology. 2012 Aug;119(8):1642-9.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Christopher Cheyer, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.