Macular Degeneration(AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. Deposits under the retina, called drusen, are a common feature of AMD. While drusen alone generally does not cause loss of vision, an increase in the number or size of the drusen can indicate an increased risk factor. There are basically two types of AMD: Dry and Wet. Drusen will likely be present in both forms. The “dry” form is most common and is present when the tissue of the macula becomes thin and damaged. Vision loss is usually gradual. The “wet” form results when abnormal blood vessels form (Neovascularization) underneath the retina (the Choroid). These vessels leak fluid or blood and damage the central vision. Vision loss may be sudden, rapid and severe.
Symptoms of AMD are varied and may include: blurriness when reading; a dark or blank spot in the center of vision; distortion (i.e. straight lines look wavy). It may be necessary for your ophthalmologist to perform a fluorescein angiogram to determine if it is wet or dry.
There is no cure for AMD, however laser and Anti-VEGF Medications are possible treatments for the wet form. The dry form is generally monitored by the patient with the aid of an Amsler Grid to check for new distortion or other visual disturbances. Nutrition is also addressed as well as smoking. Vitamins (AREDS Formula) and supplements may be recommended by your ophthalmologist to help prevent the change from dry AMD to wet. Smoking causes a constriction of blood vessels and can be detrimental to the health of your retina.