What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration (AMD), often referred to asage-related macular degeneration is a disease affecting the central area of the retina (the macula), which over time can cause a partial or complete loss of central vision. There are two types of AMD, Dry and Wet.
Dry Macular Degeneration
The dry form is the most common type of AMD. This form is diagnosed in 85-90 percent of cases. In this form, yellow deposits called drusen form and accumulate under the retina. Drusen are often found in the eyes of older people, but an increase in the size and number of these deposits is frequently the first sign of macular degeneration. Over time, drusen are associated with deterioration of the macula and the death of photoreceptor cells, resulting in a blurring or spotty loss of clear, straight-ahead vision. In the early stages of the disease, the patient may notice slightly blurry vision. However, as more and more of the cells die, central vision worsens. In its most severe form, dry age-related AMD can cause profound vision loss, severely affecting a person's quality of life.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow behind the macula as different cell types die. Certain membranes then begin to break down, usually near drusen deposits, and new blood vessels grow. This growth is called neovascularization. These vessels are very fragile and can leak fluid and blood, resulting in scarring of the macula and the potential for rapid, severe damage. Straight-ahead, or central vision, can become distorted or lost entirely in a short period of time, sometimes even within days or weeks. Wet macular degeneration accounts the majority of cases of legal blindness. All wet AMD is considered advanced.