What is macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a serious threat to vision, can result in permanent blindness if not detected and treated promptly.
This disease affects the area of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for producing sharp, central vision required for "straight ahead" activities, such as driving, reading, recognizing faces, and performing close-up work.
Is there more than one kind?
There are two types of AMD, “dry” and “wet.”
Dry macular degeneration
The most common form, “dry” macular degeneration accounts for 90% of AMD cases but is responsible for only 10% of blindness caused by this disease. It occurs when the light-sensing cells of the macula slowly break down and central vision deteriorates.
Symptoms for dry AMD include:
- blurred vision
- a need for more light when reading
- difficulty recognizing faces from a distance
- a blurred spot in central vision
Wet macular degeneration
The relatively rare “wet” form of macular degeneration is responsible for about 10% of reported cases of AMD, but the chance of going blind from this form are much higher. In this form, new blood vessels grow under the macula. These vessels are weak and can leak blood that damages the macula, causing vision to diminish very quickly.
An early symptom of wet AMD is the wavy appearance of straight lines.
What causes macular degeneration?
Some factors that may increase risk of developing macular degeneration include:
- High blood pressure
- Over-exposure to sunlight and UV radiation
- Family history
- Poor diet