Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye's macula. The macula is a small area in the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly. Many people develop macular degeneration as part of the body's natural aging process.
With AMD, you may experience symptoms that include blurriness, dark areas or distortion in your central vision, and, as it progresses, perhaps permanent loss of your central vision. It usually does not affect your side, or peripheral vision. For example, with advanced macular degeneration, you could see the outline of a clock, yet may not be able to see the hands of the clock to tell what time it is.
Many people are not aware that they have macular degeneration until they have a noticeable vision problem or until it is detected during an eye examination.
There are two types of macular degeneration:
Dry Macular Degeneration
Most people who have macular degeneration have the dry form. This condition is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. With dry macular degeneration, vision loss is usually gradual. People who develop dry macular degeneration must carefully and continually monitor their central vision. If you notice any changes in your vision, you should tell your OCB eye doctor right away as the dry form can change into the more damaging form of macular degeneration called wet macular degeneration. If you've been diagnosed with dry AMD, it is important that you use an Amsler grid each day to monitor your vision and contact your OCB eye doctor right away if you notice any changes.
Wet Macular Degeneration
About 10 percent of people who have macular degeneration develop the wet form, which can cause more damage to your central or detail vision than the dry form. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow underneath the retina. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration may be faster and more noticeable than that from dry macular degeneration. The earlier that wet macular degeneration is diagnosed and treated, the better chance you have of preserving some or much of your central vision.
Care for Age Related Macular Degeneration
OCB's Retina Center is a leading referral center for macular degeneration and is a principal clinical trial center for treatments that have provided new hope, saving sight and preventing blindness in numerous people with wet AMD. If you have dry AMD, your OCB eye doctor will want to work closely with you to monitor any vision changes that may suggest progression to wet AMD, and will provide you with any vision rehabilitation and support you may need.
A new and increasingly common way to treat wet AMD is with anti-VEGF medications. These medications target vascular endothelial growth factor, a chemical in your body that causes the abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. Blocking VEGF reduces the growth of abnormal blood vessels, slows their leakage, helps to slow vision loss, and in some cases improves vision. OCB was heavily involved in clinical trials that lead to approval of anti-VEGF therapies by the Food and Drug Administration.
Other options include laser treatment and photodynamic therapy, both of which are aimed at destroying or damaging these abnormal blood vessels.
Your OCB eye doctor will determine which therapies are best for you based on your unique individual needs and will develop a treatment plan designed to yield the best possible outcome for you and your quality of life.