What Is Age Related Macular Degeneration or AMD?
Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. It's responsible for central vision, making it an extremely important part of our eyes. A large part of our ability to see fine detail and color comes from our central vision. Clear central vision is vital to our quality of life as it allows us to drive a car, recognize faces, read, watch TV and so much more.
The retina is the back layer of the eye that consists of nerves to record images and send them back to the brain. When functioning properly, the macula collects extremely detailed images at the center of our vision. It then sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain. When the macula deteriorates, the retina sends distorted and blurred images to the brain.
One way to understand the impact of AMD: When you look at a loved one, the image of their face is focused onto your macula. The deterioration of the macula makes it difficult, sometimes impossible to see clearly, impacting our enjoyment of life.
Types of AMD
There are two main types of macular degeneration: “wet” and “dry.” Between 85% to 90% of people with macular degeneration have the dry form. The dry form can eventually lead to the wet form.
Stargardt disease is another form of macular degeneration, which occurs in young people. Caused by a defective gene, it affects 1 in 10,000 people.
Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, with lasers and injections, Dougal, McClellan, Sullivan, & Ethington Eye Associates in Chicago can help you manage the condition and occasionally even restore some lost vision.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
You might not have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of AMD. Irreversible damage may occur by the time significant symptoms reveal themselves. Wet AMD may cause the sudden appearance of these symptoms.
The first symptoms that you may experience macular degeneration include:
- Blind or dark spots in the center of your vision
- Decreased or blurry vision
- Different color perception, in rare cases
- Lines appearing wavy
While there is no cure, certain treatment options can help improve your vision. For those with advanced dry macular degeneration in both eyes, one option to improve vision may be surgery to implant a telescopic lens in one eye. A telescopic lens looks like a tiny plastic tube that has lenses that magnify your field of vision.
Regular visits to your eye doctor and comprehensive eye exams can help detect the early stages of AMD, when treatment is most effective. Treatment may slow AMD and may even be able to restore some lost vision. Contact Dougal, McClellan, Sullivan, & Ethington Eye Associates in Chicago to discuss ways to manage your AMD and find the best treatment plan.
Read more about macular degeneration symptoms and treatment.