Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition that usually affects older adults. With macular degeneration, you may lose vision in the center of the visual field, called the macula. The main cause of macular degeneration is when there is damage to the retina. There are two types of macular degeneration; dry and wet. It is one of the more common causes of visual impairment or blindness in older adults and can make it hard to read, see details, or recognize faces.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the more common type of AMD and the least severe. Someone with dry AMD will have blurry vision and is caused by the light-sensitive cell sin the macula gradually breaking down, causing blurry central vision. A blurred spot may appear in the center of your vision as it progresses. There are three stages of dry AMD including early AMD, intermediate AMD, and advanced AMD. All three stages can occur in either or both eyes.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet AMD is less common than dry AMD but more severe. It occurs when the abnormal blood vessels behind the retina grow underneath the macula. They can be fragile and leak blood and fluid into the macula, moving the macula from its normal place in the eye. With wet AMD, you may notice you see straight lines as wavy lines. The loss of central vision occurs more quickly with wet AMD.
There are a number of things that might raise the risk of getting wet or dry macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is more common in older people, though it can occur in middle age as well. As you get older, your risk for wet or dry AMD increases. Other risk factors for macular degeneration include smoking, obesity, being a Caucasian, having a family history of macular degeneration, and being women as it more common among women than men.
Diagnosing Macular Degeneration
A variety of tests will be performed to diagnose macular degeneration. Tests include a visual acuity test to measure your sight at distances, a dilated eye exam, a tonometry and additional tests to view the structure and health of your eye. The course of treatment for macular degeneration depends on the stage. The advanced stage of AMD doesn’t have treatment options to prevent vision loss. If you have an earlier stage, you can get treatment to prevent it from progressing further. These treatment include laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and a series of injections.