The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that degrades the central vision. Peripheral vision remains intact. Risk factors for the development of AMD include a family history and smoking.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- Distorted or blurry vision
- A dark empty area appearing in the center of vision
There are two kinds of AMD: wet (neovascular/exudative) and dry (non-neovascular). About 10-15% of people with AMD have the wet form. “Neovascular” means “new vessels.” Accordingly, wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow into the retina abnormally. These new vessels are very fragile, and often leak blood and fluid between the layers of the retina. This creates a dark spot in the patient’s vision.
Dry AMD is much more common than wet AMD. Patients with this type of macular degeneration do not experience new vessel growth. Instead, symptoms include thinning of the retina, loss of retinal pigment and the formation of small, round particles inside the retina called drusen. Vision loss with dry AMD is slower and often less severe than with wet AMD.
View an educational presentation about macular degeneration below
See the National Eye Institute website for more information on Macular Degeneration.