Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an eye condition which is the leading cause of loss of vision in the over 60s. It is caused by deterioration of the small central area of the retina called the macula and can result in severe, irreversible impairment of vision.
There are two forms of macular degeneration:-
Dry macular degeneration, characterized by the presence of yellow deposits in the macula. These deposits may grow in size and number causing dimming or blurring of vision which is more noticeable when reading and driving. This form of the condition may affect one or both eyes and normally progresses slowly over a period of years, In advanced stages, patients may develop thinning of the macula's light-sensitive layer of cells leading to tissue death which can result in blind spots and even total loss of central vision.
Wet macular degeneration, characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels underneath the macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina causing distortion of vision making straight lines appear wavy, blind spots and loss of central vision. The leaking eventually forms scar tissue and can lead to rapid, permanent loss of central vision.
The dry form of AMD is the most common but it can develop into the wet form in about ten percent of cases. This group makes up the majority of people who experience a serious loss of vision.
There is currently no cure for macular degeneration, but treatments can now significantly slow the progression of vision loss. They include vitamin supplements, laser therapy, lens implant surgery and vision aids. Physicians may also prescribe VEGF antibodies for wet AMD and ophthalmological corticosteroids.