Macular degeneration happens when the macula deteriorates, and it is often denoted as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because it progresses as a person ages, causing vision loss in people over age 60.

Dry form. It is characterized by the presence of drusen in the macula and may lead to a distortion or dimming of vision that people find most obvious when they read, especially when it develops in size and increases in number.

Wet form. This is characterized by the development of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula and is called choroidal neovascularization. Blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina, causing straight lines that look wavy along with blind spots and loss of central vision.

In AMD, the first indication that you may notice is a sudden or gradual change in the quality of your vision and this may slowly turn into a dramatic loss of your central vision.

Other symptoms include:

  • White, or dark, blurry areas that appear in the center of your vision
  • In rare cases, you may have a change in your view of color

When you see your doctor for a routine eye exam, he can check for age-related macular degeneration. An early diagnosis will let you begin treatment that may make several symptoms less severe or may delay them.

He’ll examine your vision and also inspect your retina. He’ll find for drusen under the retina, as it is a common early sign of the disease.

Your doctor may also request that you to look at a pattern of straight lines that’s like a checkerboard called an Amsler grid. It could be a sign of macular degeneration if some of the lines seem wavy to you or some of them are missing.

Your doctor may recommend you to have one or both of these examinations if he thinks you have age-related macular degeneration:

Optical coherence tomography (OCT). It’s a special snapshot that displays a magnified 3D image of your retina. This technique helps your doctor perceive if your retinal layers are distorted. He can as well see if swelling is getting better or worse if you had treatment with injections or laser.

Fluorescein angiography. Your doctor injects a dye into a vein in your arm in this procedure. He takes images as the dye reaches your eye and drifts through the blood vessels of the retina and the photos will show new vessels or vessels that leak fluid or blood in the small region at the center of your retina.

There’s no cure, but AMD treatment may slow the disease and may save you from having severe loss of vision. These treatments include:

Anti-angiogenic drugs. Some people who take these have been able to recover vision that they have lost from AMD.

Laser therapy. A high-energy laser light treatment from time to time may terminate actively growing abnormal blood vessels from AMD.

Photodynamic laser therapy. It’s a two-step treatment that damages your abnormal blood vessels using a light-sensitive drug. After injecting a drug into your bloodstream, your doctor shines a laser into the eye to activate the drug which damages the abnormal blood vessels.

Vitamins. Supplement formula that has beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, copper and zinc can be helpful according to a study named AREDS by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

AREDS2 formula is an updated supplement and has added zeaxanthin, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids and has removed beta-carotene, which might be of significance to smokers.

Low vision aids. Electronic systems or special lenses that enlarge images of nearby items are available.

Some new ways to treat age-related macular degeneration are submacular surgery and retinal translocation.

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