What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), refers to damage of the central retina called the macula. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina and contributes to fine detail and central vision. When the macula is damaged, central vision is degraded while peripheral or side vision continues to perform normally.
- Dry AMD occurs when clumps of protein called drusen form under the retina in the macula. In advanced forms the layer under the retina is damaged causing scarring.
- Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels leak blood and fluid that cause rapid vision loss and often scar the macula and cause permanent central vision loss.
- Age — Both forms of AMD become more likely with age and are leading causes of vision loss for people ages 50 and older.
- Genetics and race — Caucasians and people with a family history of AMD are more likely to develop the condition.
- Smoking — Smoking can raise the risk or quicken the progression of AMD.
- Diet and weight — Being overweight and eating diets high in saturated fat can raise the risk of AMD.
- Distorted vision — Lines, shapes and objects appear warped or crooked. If this occurs quickly it can be a sign that there is blood or fluid leaking into the retina.
- Central vision degradation — Central vision degradation can occur gradually (dry AMD) or quickly (wet AMD), resulting in blurry central vision or a complete loss of central vision.
- Multivitamins — While central vision loss from AMD cannot be reversed, multivitamins can help prevent dry AMD from transitioning to wet AMD. These vitamins can include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper.
- Injections — For wet AMD, anti-VEGF drugs can be injected into the eye to help dry up and reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels. They can also prevent further bleeding and leaking of fluids under the retina. Depending on the location and severity of prior leaking, this treatment can improve quality of vision.
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