What Is Age-Related
Macular Degeneration?

By: Jody Smith

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) negatively affects the sight by eradicating proper central vision. The National Institute of Health has reported that for people who are age 60 and older, AMD is the number one cause of losing sight.

The macula of the eye allows for the visual detection of fine detail. The macula is in the middle of the retina.

The retina is tissue in the back of the eye which is sensitive to light. The retina converts what it sees into electrical impulses or nerve signals that are transmitted to the brain.

Age-related macular degeneration is gradual. Degeneration of the macula is not painful but it is extremely limiting. The change can come about very slowly, sometimes without you even noticing at first. In other cases, things deteriorate very quickly as vision in both eyes is compromised.

Wet AMD is the result of the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina beneath the macula. These are fragile blood vessels which are prone to leak blood and other fluids.

The leakage of these liquids move the macula from its location at the back of the eye. This series of events will cause swift deterioration of the macula.

Dry AMD occurs with the breakdown of the macula's light-sensitive cells. This causes a subtly advancing blurring effect in the eye's central vision.

As the condition progresses you may find that there is a blurring effect in the middle of whatever you look at. This will get worse as the disorder continues to degenerate.

Dry AMD will usually attack both eyes, although this is not always the case. The vision of one eye may lose vision but the other might remain sound.

Drusen, yellow deposits below the retina, commonly accompany dry AMD. Drusen is a common occurrence for people who are 60 years of age or older. A comprehensive dilated eye exam by your eye care provider will identify Drusen.

It's not known just how Drusen is involved in the development of dry AMD. But the more Drusen is found, the greater the person's risk for advanced dry AMD or for wet AMD will be.

Dry AMD first presents with a number of small Drusen, or with a smaller number of medium Drusen. The person is asymptomatic at this stage.

Intermediate AMD is associated with several medium Drusen, or a few large Drusen. A spot of blurred vision may center itself in the patient's vision. Reading and other sight-work may require more light than it used to.

Advanced dry AMD will include Drusen, as well as deteriorating light-sensitive cells and tissue of the central retina area. A blurry spot may appear in the central vision. This spot can enlarge and get darker.

More central vision can be lost. It may get harder to read. You may not recognize people's faces except when they are quite near.

Age-related macular degeneration in 90 percent of cases is dry AMD.

Sources:

Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.asp

Age Related Macular Degeneration ("AMD") is Leading Cause of Vision Loss for Seniors

http://www.thirdage.com/vision-health/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd-is-leading-cause-of-vision-loss-for-seniors

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