Age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among those aged 55 and older. It is a painless, progressive eye disease that can lead to deterioration of one’s central vision, which can make it difficult to read, recognize faces, or drive. For most people, the condition usually starts in one eye and may or may not affect the other eye.
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: dry and wet.
DRY MACULAR DEGENERATION
Almost 90% of those diagnosed with AMD will have the dry form. In the early stages, yellow deposits called drusen form beneath the macula, the area inside your eye responsible for central and detailed vision. The presence of drusen can be detected during your eye exam and is the most common early sign of the disease. Having a few drusen may not cause immediate changes to vision, however, as the drusen increase in size and grow in number, central vision can become distorted and dimmer.
WET MACULAR DEGENERATION
The dry form can advance and cause vision loss without ever turning into the wet form. However, about 10% of those with the dry form of AMD will eventually develop the wet form. The wet form occurs when new, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula. The new blood vessels are very fragile and leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid causes damage and scarring to the macula which can lead to permanent vision loss.
There is no cure for AMD, however, most people with AMD do not become totally blind. Treatments can be provided to slow the progression and control retinal changes via vitamins, injections, laser treatment, and low-vision devices.