5 things to know about age-related macular degeneration

One of the leading causes of vision loss is age-related macular degeneration.

Doctors can typically diagnose AMD with a routine eye exam.

For those who are unfamiliar, here are are five things to know about AMD, according to WebMD.

What is AMD?

AMD is an eye disease that causes severe or permanent vision loss, mostly to people ages 60 and older. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, the light-sensing nerve tissue in the back of your eye called the macula, wears down. There is no cure.

What are the types of macular degeneration?

There are two types of macular degeneration.

  • Wet form: Blood vessels below your macula leak blood and fluid into the retina, distorting vision to the point that straight lines look wavy and cause blind spots.
  • Dry form: This occurs when the macula develops yellow deposits called drusen. As drusen get bigger, they can dim or distort the vision.

What causes macular degeneration?

Elements that cause macular degeneration may include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Genetics

What are some symptoms of macular degeneration?

Symptoms may include:

  • Worse or less clear vision, making it hard to read or drive.
  • Dark, blurry areas in the center of your vision.
  • Different or worse color perception.

How is macular degeneration treated?

Some treatments for macular degeneration may include:

  • Anti-angiogenesis drugs. Medications such as flibercept, bevacizumab, pegaptanib and ranibizumab can block the creation of blood vessels, as well as the leaking from the vessels in your eye, that causes wet macular degeneration.
  • Laser therapy. High-energy laser light can destroy abnormal blood vessels growing in your eye.
  • Photodynamic laser therapy. This involves a doctor injecting a light-sensitive drug called verteporfin into your bloodstream. It’s absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels. A laser is then shined into your eye to trigger the medication to damage those abnormal blood vessels.
  • Low-vision aids. These are devices that have special lenses or electronic systems to create larger images of nearby things.
  • Submacular surgery. This removes abnormal blood vessels or blood.
  • Retinal translocation. This is a procedure to destroy abnormal blood vessels under the center of your macula, where your doctor can’t use a laser beam safely. In this procedure, a doctor rotates the center of your macula away from the abnormal blood vessels to a healthy area of your retina. This prevents patients from having scar tissue or receiving more damage to the retina. The abnormal blood vessels are then treated with a laser.

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