Quick Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects central vision, can occur in one or both eyes.
- The disease can progress slowly or quickly.
- Two types of AMD exist: dry and wet.
- A person can have either or both types.
- Dry AMD can suddenly change into the wet type of the disease.
- Dry AMD can advance and cause central vision loss without changing into wet AMD.
- Not everyone with early AMD will develop advanced AMD.
- A person with advanced AMD does not experience total blindness, but the loss of central vision can significantly interfere with everyday activities.
As many as 11 million Americans have some type of macular degeneration, including both the early and later stages of the wet and dry types. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease among people 60 and older and is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss. For Caucasians older than 40, it is the leading cause of legal blindness.
AMD causes deterioration of the macula, the central area of the retina. The retina is a paper-thin tissue at the back of the eye where light sensitive cells send visual signals to the brain. Sharp, clear, straight-ahead vision is processed by the macula. Damage to it results in blind spots and blurred or distorted vision. Those affected by AMD find many daily activities, such as driving and reading, increasingly difficult.
In the very center of the retina is the macula, which contains the highest concentration of light-sensitive cells, called cones.
- Cones provide sharp, detailed, central vision used in activities like driving and reading.
- In macular degeneration, cells in the macular region begin to die, causing blind spots and distorted central vision.
Types of Macular Degeneration
The two types of macular degeneration are dry and wet.
• People can develop both types of the disease.
• The disease can affect one or both eyes.
• The disease may progress slowly or rapidly.
Dry AMD may advance and cause vision loss with or without turning into the wet type of the disease. However, not everyone with early AMD will develop the advanced form of the disease.
Treatment & Drugs
If you are diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you need to see your eye doctor regularly to determine how quickly your disease is progressing. Your doctor can:
- Tell you how to control risk factors for AMD
- Show you how to use the Amsler grid, a simple method by which you can regularly monitor and detect any subtle changes in your vision on your own
At the first sign of any visual changes—no matter how small they may seem—you should make an appointment with your eye care provider.
Macular Degeneration Research (MDR) Program
The key in finding a cure.
Scientific evidence shows that genes may play a role in the development of nearly three out of four cases of this devastating eye disease. Since its inception, the MDR program has awarded nearly $40 million to support research into the causes and potential preventions and treatments of macular degeneration disease.
More Resources for Understanding Macular Degeneration
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