Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the nation’s leading cause of vision loss. AMD causes
degeneration of the eye’s macula, which is the center part of vision. The macula is a light sensitive area
in the retina and allows us to focus on fine detail including people’s faces, fine print and even street
signs. Degenerations in the macular area mostly affect central vision and commonly do not affect a
person’s peripheral vision.
When our eyes age, the macular tissue tends to thin out and fatty protein like material accumulates in
the retina. This fatty material is known as drusen and it commonly accumulates under the retina.
Eventually as the drusen accumulates it disrupts the signal that the retina sends through the optic nerve
to the brain causing a deterioration of central vision. There are two different types of AMD, dry and wet.
Most people with AMD have the dry form which causes visual loss to progress more slowly. Dry AMD
involves the accumulation of drusen over time and the drusen usually tend to become larger in size. Dry
AMD can lead into Wet AMD. Wet AMD involves the accumulation of abnormal blood vessel growth
beneath the retina which usually cause leakage of fluid and blood which can cause further distortion to
vision. Wet AMD causes a faster visual distortion and more noticeable vision loss.
Some symptoms of Dry AMD include, blurry distance and/or reading vision, need for increased light to
see objects at near, colors appear less vivid and difficulty transitioning between dark and bright lights.
Symptoms of Wet AMD include distorted vision where straight lines will appear wavy, dark gray spots in
vision, loss of cental vision and object sizes may appear different for each eye.
AMD is usually diagnosed at a comprehensive eye exam. Your eye care provider will dilate your eyes and
may even run scans of the back of your eye to take a close look at the macular region of your retina.
From there it will be determined how closely you would need to be followed if you are diagnosed with
this retinal condition. If vision loss is experienced with the progression of the disease, a low vision exam
can help you to better compensate and allow you to use your vision more usefully.