What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of poor vision after age 60. Macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula (which gives us the ability to see “20/20” and provides the best color vision). When the macula does not function properly, the central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion.
What causes AMD?
Although the specific cause is unknown, AMD seems to be part of aging. While age is the most significant risk factor for developing AMD, heredity, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and smoking have also been identified as risk factors. AMD accounts for 90 percent of new legal blindness in the US.
What are the symptoms?
The visual symptoms of AMD involve loss of central vision. While peripheral vision is unaffected, one loses the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and generally looking at detail.
Imagine being able to see a clock on the wall but unable to make out the time or unable to read because you could not see parts of words on the page.
What is the Difference Between Dry and Wet AMD?
The two most common types of AMD are “dry” (atrophic) and “wet” (exudative) AMD.
Nine out of 10 people who have AMD have the dry form, which results in thinning of the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision. Dry AMD takes many years to develop and vision loss is usually gradual.
The wet form of AMD occurs much less frequently (one out of 10 people) but is more serious. Abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina at the back of the eye and these blood vessels leak fluid or blood and blur central vision. Vision loss is rapid and severe.
The Amsler Grid Test
Promising AMD research is being done on many fronts. In the meantime, high-intensity reading lamps, magnifiers, and other low-vision aids help people with AMD make the most of remaining vision.
Between eye exams, you can monitor your vision using a tool called an Amsler Grid Test. While focusing at the dot in the center, you may notice that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy to you, or you may notice some lines are missing. Looking at an Amsler Grid on a daily basis will help you stay alert to any sudden changes in your vision.
- If you wear glasses or contacts, make sure you are wearing them before you take the test.
- Position chart 14 inches away from your face (click HERE for printable version)
- Cover one eye with your hand.
- Focus on the dot in the center.
- Call our office if there is any change from your baseline the first time you took the test.
Please contact us today if you have any questions.
How is Age-related Macular Degeneration Treated?
Currently, there is no treatment for dry AMD but there are intervention measures, such as supplements. to delay and possibly prevent intermediate AMD from progressing to the advanced stage in which vision loss occurs. However, it is important to schedule regular follow-ups to monitor the eyes for conversion of dry AMD to wet AMD. Patients with end-stage AMD may also be eligible for the CentraSight’s Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT), which projects images over healthy areas of the retina.
Treatment for wet AMD involves the administration of an anti-VEGF medication into the eye. Anti-VEGF agents suppress the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina and help restore vision. It is important that bleeding from wet AMD is detected early because wet AMD may involve scarring that is irreversible Patients may require repeat injections to manage AMD.
Request an Appointment in San Jose or Gilroy, California
If you are experiencing issues with your vision or have been diagnosed with Age-related Macular Degeneration, request an appointment at or obtain a referral to South Bay Retina. We have two locations in the South Bay, San Jose and Gilroy. Contact the closest office to you to meet with Dr. Narain, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist. Call (408) 294-3534 for our San Jose and Gilroy office. You can also schedule an appointment online.