The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.
Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. This is called age-related macular degeneration(AMD).
What are the symptoms of AMD?
With macular degeneration, you may have symptoms such as blurred vision, dark areas or distortion in your central vision, and some times, permanent loss of your central vision. The peripheral vision is usually spared. Early symptoms are loss of clarity while reading and distortion of objects. With advanced macular degeneration you may fail to recognize a person’s face. AMD usually affects both eyes, although not necessarily to the same extent.
What are the types of AMD?
AMD is of two types.
- Dry AMD
With dry macular degeneration, vision loss is usually gradual. These patients need to monitor their central vision regularly. If you notice any change in your vision, you should tell your eye doctor right away, as the dry form can change into the more damaging form which is wet (exudative) macular degeneration. While there is no medication or treatment for dry macular degeneration, some people may benefit from vitamin supplements (anti-oxidants).
- Wet AMD
About ten percent of people who have macular degeneration have the wet form. This can cause more damage to your central vision than the dry form. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow underneath the retina. This blood vessel growth is called choroidal neovascularization (CNV) because these vessels grow from the layer under the retina called the choroid. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration may be faster and more noticeable than dry AMD.
Can AMD be prevented?
The exact cause of AMD is unknown. A healthy life style without smoking and a good diet may reduce the risk.
Can AMD be treated?
There is no treatment for dry AMD, although high dose multivitamin combination has been shown to decrease the risk of visual loss.
There are a few treatment options for wet AMD although the best outcomes occur when this disease is detected early. These include thermal laser, photodynamic therapy, anti-VEGFs (Lucentis, Avastin, Macugen) or combinations of these. Not all patients may benefit from these, and treatment may not prevent further vision loss.
How will I know I have AMD?
Early reporting of new distortion or blurred vision should be reported to the eye doctor. The earlier the disease is detected, the more amenable it is to treatment. The earliest symptom is distortion of straight lines, making a grid pattern appear distorted.
- Trans pupillary thermotherapy(TTT)
- Photodynamic therapy(PDT)
- High speed vitrectomy machine, CONSTELLATION®, with 5000cpm
- Low visual aids and visual rehabilitation
- Ocular genetics & counseling for retinal/macular dystrophies