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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

May also be called: Dry-age related macular degeneration; Wet age-related macular degeneration; Geographic atrophy

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the retina that provides our central vision.

Condition Information

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the retina that provides our central vision. There are 3 types of macular degeneration: dry-age related macular degeneration (dry AMD), wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), and geographic atrophy (GA).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the retina that provides our central vision. There are 3 types of macular degeneration: dry-age related macular degeneration (dry AMD), wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), and geographic atrophy (GA). When macular degeneration progresses, it can convert to the wet form or geographic atrophy can develop.

Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD): the most mild and early form of macular degeneration; vision may not be affected.

Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD): occurs when disruption to the retinal blood vessels causes leaking of fluid under the macula, which is the central vision area. This fluid can lead to scarring and permanent decreased vision.2

Geographic Atrophy (GA): occurs when retinal tissue dies or atrophies as a result of damage from macular degeneration; considered late-stage dry macular degeneration.3

The major risk factors for AMD are:

  • Smoking
  • Eating food high in saturated fats
  • Increased age
  • Family history of AMD
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Caucasian race1

Age-related macular degeneration can cause blurriness and distortion of your central vision. It is important for macular degeneration patients to monitor their vision with an Amsler grid. This grid maps out the central vision area of vision and can detect changes to vision caused by worsening macular degeneration, either wet or dry.

Age-related macular degeneration is caused by a buildup of the waste the retina creates, as the pigmented layer under the retina becomes unable to dispose of this waste. Exposure to UV light can cause oxidative stress in the retina, leading to macular degeneration. This is why it’s incredibly important to wear sunglasses when outdoors. Macular degeneration can also be hereditary, therefore it’s very important to inform your eye care practitioner about any family history of this condition, as well as, have eye exams as recommended by your eye doctor.4 Complement genes and inflammation, which are both part of an immune response, can also lead to macular degeneration.5

Comprehensive eye exam: Macular degeneration is diagnosed by examination with an eye care practitioner. This condition manifests as cream-colored clumps of protein, called drusen, in the macular area of the retina.1

Ocular coherence tomography (OCT): This device can be used to view drusen/macular degeneration and determine if fluid has formed within the retina (wet AMD).

Fluorescein angiography: Intravenous dye is injected into a blood vessel in the arm allowing the dye to travel to retinal blood vessels; can show which type of AMD is present and the severity of the condition.

Supplements: AREDS-2 supplements are used for later stage dry AMD, along with a recommended diet rich in leafy greens, antioxidants, and fish.1

Intravitreal injections: Anti-VEGF injections into the jelly portion of the eye are used to minimize fluid under the macula.

Living with age-related macular degeneration can affect our day-to-day lives in a variety of ways. When our macular or central vision is decreased, our most detailed vision suffers. Activities like reading, driving, and working can be difficult. Devices, like magnifiers and adjusting home lighting can assist with daily activities. Increasing contrast around the home, including altering contrast settings on the television and adding dark electrical tape or paint to light materials, is an excellent way to adapt to vision loss.6 It is important for patients to monitor their vision as recommended by their eye care practitioner with an Amsler grid. An Amsler grid maps out a patient’s central vision, detecting changes that may be attributed to worsening macular degeneration, including conversion to the more serious, wet form. Patients should try to slow progression of their macular degeneration by eating a diet rich in leafy green and antioxidants, refraining from smoking, and wearing sunglasses when outside.

The content provided on this page is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice and consultation. Please consult your eye care or health care provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Click here for our full legal disclaimer.

Contact us for a Age-Related Macular Degeneration trial near you

It was good to be on a trial because it gives you a comfort factor that somebody is taking notice of what is happening to your eyes.

Cynthia
Macular Degeneration Clinical Trial Participant

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