Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of severe vision loss in older Americans. It affects central vision, and may interfere with daily tasks such as reading and driving. Early symptoms include blurred vision or distortion, such as objects appearing warped, or straight lines appearing wavy. Your ophthalmologist can often detect signs of macular degeneration before any loss of vision occurs.

Macular degeneration affects the retina in two forms: dry and wet AMD. The dry form of AMD is more common, and is generally not associated with severe loss of vision. It is characterized by the presence of small, yellowish deposits under the retina, called drusen. Wet, or neovascular AMD, is frequently accompanied by relatively sudden loss of vision. This is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina that leak fluid or blood. Recent advances in the treatment of wet AMD can now prevent further loss of vision, or even restore vision in some cases, if treatment is sought promptly.

As the early form of macular degeneration does not cause any visual symptoms, if you are age 50 or older, a complete eye examination by an ophthalmologist is recommended on an annual basis to look for signs of the disease, particularly if there is any history of macular degeneration in your family.

If you have the early form of AMD, studies have shown that you can reduce your chances of loss of vision by not smoking, maintaining a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, and working with your doctors to control your blood pressure and lipids. You can also perform a simple test at home to look for signs of worsening vision caused by AMD.

Our retina specialists employ the most advanced tools in the diagnosis and treatment of macular degeneration and other diseases of the retina. In addition to the most effective therapies currently available, we are engaged in clinical trials that give our patients access to cutting edge treatments. You or your doctor may contact us directly for an appointment with a retina specialist.

For more information on macular degeneration and other retinal conditions, visit our main retina page.

Information source: Mass. Eye and Ear retinal physicians