When it comes to eye diseases, most people are familiar with glaucoma and cataracts, but few know about Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that directly affects the macula, the small area of the retina that is responsible for central vision. AMD occurs in two forms:
- Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (common): Tiny yellow deposits, called drusen, develop beneath the macula, signaling degeneration and thinning of nerve tissue.
- Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (less common): Abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the macula, leaking blood and fluid onto and underneath the retina. This kills retinal cells, causing blurring, distortion, and blank spots in your field of vision.
Interesting Macular Degenerations Facts & Statistics
- More than 13 million Americans are affected by AMD.
- Nearly 90% of all diagnosed AMD is the dry form.
- About 10% of cases of dry macular degeneration develop into the wet, or neovascular, form of AMD.
- Globally, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and is responsible for some 50% of visual impairment.
- AMD is uncommon in people younger than 55.
- Women are slightly more likely than men to develop AMD.
- Studies show that obesity, smoking, and exposure to UV rays may also be risk factors for developing AMD.
Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
In its early stages, AMD may not present any signs or symptoms. As the eye disease progresses, however, signs and symptoms become much more prevalent and include:
- The distortion or blurring of central vision
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks like driving or reading
- Inability to see small details or fine print
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Need for more light while reading or working
- Dark or blurry areas in the center of vision (blind spots)
- Changed color perception
- Inability to focus properly on a single point within a grid
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, contact your eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist – at your earliest convenience. The early detection of macular degeneration is critical to the long-term treatment of the eye disease.
Recent innovations in AMD treatment can slow or even halt the progression of retinal changes.
“There are good modern treatments available for patients who lose vision due to AMD,” said board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Cuong Vu of Retina Associates. “[But] early detection and prevention are the keys to success.”
To learn more about Macular Degeneration, please contact board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010.
Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the Anne Arundel Eye Center offers comprehensive specialized ophthalmic exams as well as diagnostic pre and post-surgical eye care. Specializing in glaucoma and cataracts, Dr. Boles has helped restore and preserve thousands of patients’ vision. Vision problems may be a natural part of aging. Losing your vision doesn’t have to be.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.