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Macular Degeneration

What is 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. When the macula does not function properly, the central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion. 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.

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.

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What is the difference between dry and wet AMD?

The two most common types of AMD are “dry” (atrophic) and “wet”(exudative) AMD.

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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. Currently there is no treatment.

The wet form of AMD occurs much less frequently (one out of 10 people) but is more serious. Abnormal blood vessels from 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. Treatment for wet AMD involves administration of by an Eylea or Avastin injection into the eye. The procedure usually does not improve vision but prevents further loss of vision.

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.

Amsler Grid Test– Between eye exams, you can monitor your vision using a tool called an Amsler Grid. 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.

To Use:

  1. If you wear glasses or contacts, make sure you are wearing them before you take the test.
  2. Position chart 14 inches away from your face (click HERE for printable version)
  3. Cover one eye with your hand.
  4. Focus on the dot in the center.
  5. Call our office if there is any change from your baseline the first time you took the test.