Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of vision loss amongst Caucasians in the United States. Macular degeneration will rarely result in total blindness because it does not affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors contributing to more severe forms of AMD may include cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, dietary habits, and family history. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and to begin intervention, if necessary, to prevent permanent vision loss.
Symptoms of AMD include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted or blurry vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center or just off the center of your vision
An Amsler grid is a very effective tool that you may use in the home or office to detect any subtle changes in your vision.
There are two kinds of AMD: "wet" (neovascular/exudative) and "dry" (atrophic). Although only 10-15% of individuals with AMD have the wet form of the disease, the majority of patients with profound central vision loss, however, suffer from this form of AMD. Neovascular means "new blood vessels." Accordingly, wet AMD occurs when fragile new blood vessels grow from under the macula and cause bleeding, swelling, and scar tissue formation that ultimately leads to damage to the macula and subsequent central vision loss. Anti-angiogenic therapy and laser surgery are effective in reducing the severity of vision loss. In many cases, stabilization of the disease and visual improvement may occur if a patient is properly diagnosed and treated in the appropriate fashion.
Dry AMD is much more common than the wet variant of the disease. Patients with dry AMD do not experience new blood vessel growth. Symptoms of dry AMD may also include blurry and distorted vision. Clinical findings such as thinning (atrophy) of the retina and its underlying supporting cells, the retinal pigment epithelium, as well as, deposits under the retina called drusen, may be found in individuals with dry AMD. Vision loss with dry AMD is slower and often less severe than with wet AMD.
A recent study published by the National Eye Institute (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) has found that a specific combination of high dose anti-oxidants and zinc taken as an oral preparation may reduce the risk of vision loss in certain patients with macular degeneration.
Retina-Vitreous Consultants is an active participant in multiple national and international collaborative clinical research trials investigating the use of intraocular drug preparations in reducing the severity of macular degeneration.