Age Related Macular Degeneration

February is Age Related Macular Degeneration Month.  Age-related macular degeneration – also called macular degeneration, AMD or ARMD – is the leading cause of severe vision loss among Americans, more than glaucoma and cataracts combined.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is deterioration of the macula, which is the small central area of the retina of the eye that is responsible for sharp, central vision. Macular degeneration has three stages: early macular degeneration, intermediate macular degeneration and late macular degeneration.

  • Early macular degeneration – People with early macular degeneration typically do not have vision loss. Early macular degeneration is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen, which are yellow deposits beneath the retina that are about the width of an average human hair.
  • Intermediate macular degeneration – At this stage, there may be some vision loss, but most people will not experience any symptoms. People with intermediate macular degeneration will usually have large drusen, pigment changes in the retina, or both.
  • Late macular degeneration – In addition to drusen, vision loss from damage to the macula will also become noticeable in this stage.

There are also two basic types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.

  • Dry macular degeneration (non-neovascular) – Dry macular degeneration is the more common type of macular degeneration. With dry macular degeneration, the tissue of the macula gradually becomes thin and stops working properly.
  • Wet macular degeneration (neovascular) – Wet macular degeneration is less common, but much more serious. Wet macular degeneration occurs when fluids leak from newly-formed blood vessels under the macula. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet macular degeneration than with dry macular degeneration.

View the Superior Vision flyer on Age Related Macular Degeneration.

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