Age-Related Macular Degeneration
During normal aging, yellowish deposits, called drusen, form under the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye that provides clear, sharp images As drusen increase in size and number, they can interfere with proper functioning of the retina, damaging or killing the light-sensitive cells of the macula.
Because the macula's light-sensitive cells provide the ability to have sharp, detailed vision, the results can be blurring of central vision and a devastating impact on the ability to enjoy activities of daily life, such as reading, driving, or even recognizing the face of a friend or family member. This form of age-related macular degeneration is called dry AMD. Dry AMD can be a precursor to wet AMD.
Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These blood vessels often leak blood and fluid, damaging or killing light-sensitive cells—loss of vision occurs quickly.
Although approximately 80 percent of patients with age-related macular degeneration have dry AMD, wet AMD is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of severe loss of vision or legal blindness associated with this disease. Symptoms
- Need for brighter light when reading
- Difficulty adapting to low light levels
- Increased blurriness of printed words
- Decrease in brightness of colors
- Blurred spot in the center of the field of vision
- Blank or black spot in the field of vision (spot will start small and grow over time, possibly leading to blindness
- Abrupt decline in central vision
- Visual distortions, such as straight lines appearing wavy, or objects appearing larger or smaller than they are
- Quick image transfer via network, USB stick or DVD/CD.
- Well-defined blind spot in the center of vision.
It is important to pay close attention to any decline in central vision—both near and distant. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an examination with a retina specialist. Risk factors
- Cigarette smoking
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Excessive sun exposure
- Diet deficient in fruits and vegetables
- Dilated eye exam
- Ocular coherence tomography
- Amsler grid