age-related macular degeneration
What is it?
This is an eye disease of the central retina, the macula, that is associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. When the macula becomes damaged, many daily activities such as driving and reading become increasingly difficult.
How many people suffer from AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of visual impairment in the United States. Approximately 1.8 million Americans age 40 and older have advanced AMD, and another 7.3 million people with intermediate AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss. The government estimates that by 2030 there could be 6.3 million people affected due to the aging of the Baby Boomers.
What are wet and dry macular degeneration?
There are two forms of (AMD): dry AMD and wet AMD. The dry form, in which the cells of the macula slowly begin to break down, is diagnosed in 85 percent of cases. Both eyes are usually affected by dry AMD, although one eye can lose vision while the other eye appears unaffected. Drusen, yellow deposits under the retina, are common early signs of dry AMD. The risk of developing advanced dry AMD or wet AMD increases as the number or size of the drusen increases. The wet form, accounts for only 15 % of cases but results in 90% of the blindness, and is considered advanced AMD. As the dry form worsens, some people begin to have abnormal blood vessels growing behind the macula. These new blood vessels may then bleed and leak fluid, causing the macula to bulge or lift up, thus distorting or destroying central vision. Under these circumstances, vision loss may be rapid and severe.
How is AMD diagnosed?
We will perform a dilated eye exam, visual acuity test, and view the back of the eye to help diagnose age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Are there effective treatments for AMD?
At present, there is no known way to prevent macular degeneration. For now, the most important thing to do is to have regular eye exams, which may allow early detection and diagnosis.
If dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) reaches the advanced stages, there is no current treatment to prevent vision loss. However, a specific high-dose formula of antioxidants may delay or prevent intermediate AMD from progressing to the advanced stage. Laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and treatment with Macugen can destroy or control the growth of the abnormal blood vessels in the macula and is helpful for some people who have wet AMD; however, vision that is already lost will not be recovered. There are also multiple new promising treatment options in development.