Information for Patients
Also called: AMD, Age-related macular degeneration
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. It is a disease that destroys your sharp, central vision. You need central vision to see objects clearly and to do tasks such as reading and driving.
AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. It does not hurt, but it causes cells in the macula to die. There are two types: wet and dry. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid. Wet AMD damages the macula quickly. Blurred vision is a common early symptom. Dry AMD happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Your gradually lose your central vision. A common early symptom is that straight lines appear crooked.
Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect macular degeneration before the disease causes vision loss. Treatment can slow vision loss. It does not restore vision.
NIH: National Eye Institute
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Age-related macular degeneration Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that is a leading cause of vision loss in older people in developed countries. Subtle abnormalities indicating changes in vision may occur in a person's forties or fifties. Distorted vision and vision loss usually become noticeable in a person's sixties or seventies and tend to worsen over time.Age-related macular degeneration mainly affects central vision, which is needed for detailed tasks such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces. The vision loss in this condition results from a gradual deterioration of light-sensing cells in the tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color (the retina). Specifically, age-related macular degeneration affects a small area near the center of the retina, called the macula, which is responsible for central vision. Side (peripheral) vision and night vision are generally not affected, but slow adjustment of vision to darkness (dark adaptation) and reduced dim light (scotopic) vision often occur in the early stages of the disease.Researchers have described two major types of age-related macular degeneration, known as the dry form and the wet form. The dry form is much more common, accounting for 85 to 90 percent of all cases of age-related macular degeneration. It is characterized by a buildup of yellowish deposits called drusen beneath the retina and vision loss that worsens slowly over time. The most advanced stage of dry age-related macular degeneration is known as geographic atrophy, in which areas of the macula waste away (atrophy), resulting in severe vision loss. Dry age-related macular degeneration typically affects vision in both eyes, although vision loss often occurs in one eye before the other.In 10 to 15 percent of affected individuals, the dry form progresses to the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. The wet form is characterized by the growth of abnormal, fragile blood vessels underneath the macula. These vessels leak blood and fluid, which damages the macula and makes central vision appear blurry and distorted. The wet form of age-related macular degeneration is associated with severe vision loss that can worsen rapidly.