Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the macula in the eye. The macula is a small area in the back of the eye that allows a person to see straight ahead, up close, as well as fine detail. This causes decreased central vision, which can affect our distance and near vision. This disease is more common as people get older due to aging and sometimes because of smoking, inactivity, and poor diet.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Two types of the disease exist – dry (atrophic) and wet (exudative). The Dry subtype is the most common, and is caused by the aging and thinning of the macula. Vision loss is primarily gradual. Wet or “exudative” macular degeneration occurs when the blood vessels grow and leak in the back of the eye. This type of macular degeneration is often more rapid and severe if left untreated.
Recently, there have been a number of new and exciting developments in the treatment of both wet and dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration can be treated in the early stages. Currently, if caught early enough, treatment often will stabilize the vision and sometimes will improve the vision in the individuals with wet AMD. Previously the dry type of macular degeneration was not treatable, but new treatments can significantly slow the progression of some forms of dry AMD. With both wet and dry AMD, it is important to understand that it is a chronic disease that has no cure, but has very effective treatments that often need to be continued lifelong.