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Macular Degeneration Mountain View

Definition of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular Degeneration #1

Retina Macular Degeneration

The macula is the part of the retina that distinguishes fine detail at the center of the field of vision. In some elderly people, macula loses its function resulting in blurring of the central vision. It tends to happen as people get older, so-called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Because AMD is age-related, in nearly all cases, both eyes are affected. AMD usually develops gradually and is not painful. AMD may lead to significant loss of central vision but peripheral vision is not affected. For example, you could see a clock but not be able to tell what time it is.

Types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

There are two main types of AMD:

  • Dry AMD: The light-sensitive cells in the macula break down slowly. With less of the macula working, you lose central vision in the affected eye as the years go by. Dry AMD often occurs in just one eye at first. You may get the disease later in the other eye.
  • Wet AMD: It occurs as the new blood vessels behind the retina start to grow toward macula. These vessels are very fragile and tend to leak blood and fluid under the macula. This causes rapid damage to the macula that can lead to the loss of central vision in a short period of time.

Risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Although AMD can occur during middle age, the risk increases, as a person gets older. Besides age, other AMD risk factors include:

  • Gender: Women may be at greater risk than men, according to some studies.
  • Smoking: Smoking may increase the risk of AMD.
  • Family History: People with a family history of AMD may be at higher risk of getting the disease.
  • Cholesterol: People with elevated levels of blood cholesterol may be at higher risk for wet AMD.

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Some of the most common symptoms of AMD include:

  • A painless, gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
  • Distorted vision. Objects appear to be the wrong size or shape or straight lines appear wavy or crooked.
  • A gradual loss of clear color vision
  • A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision.

Detection of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

An ophthalmologist detects AMD during an eye examination that includes:

  • Visual acuity test: This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
  • Pupil dilation: Your ophthalmologist will examine the retina and look for signs of AMD after dilating your pupils.
  • Drusen spots: These are tiny yellow deposits in the retina. Your ophthalmologist can see them during an eye examination. The presence of drusen alone does not indicate a disease, but it might mean that the eye is at risk for developing more severe AMD.
  • Amsler grid: This grid is like a checkerboard. You will be asked to cover one eye and stare at a black dot in the center of the grid. Straight lines in the pattern may appear wavy and some lines may appear missing. These may be signs of wet AMD.
  • Fluorescein angiography: A special dye is injected into a vein and pictures are then taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in the retina. The photos help evaluate leaking blood vessels to determine whether they can be treated.

Treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Dry AMD currently cannot be treated, but this does not mean that you will lose your sight. Fortunately, dry AMD develops very slowly. You may lose some of your central vision over the years. However, most people are able to lead normal, active lives–especially if AMD affects only one eye.

Some cases of wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery. The treatment involves aiming a high energy beam of light directly onto the leaking blood vessels. Laser treatment is more effective if the leaky blood vessels have developed away from the fovea–the central part of the macula. Even if the blood vessels are growing right behind the fovea, the treatment can be of some value in stopping further vision loss. Some new treatments include photodynamic therapy and VEGF receptor antibodies. Please contact your ophthalmologist regarding the eligibility and availability of these new treatments.

If you are concerned about macular degeneration and would like to schedule an eye appointment with NeoVision Eye Center, please contact us at 510-431-5511 (Union City). Remember! Early detection of macular degeneration is the most important factor in determining if you can be treated effectively.

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