Macular degeneration (also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is a progressive eye disease that affects the central portion of your retina, called the macula. The retina is located at the very back of your eye, and it's where millions of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells work to gather image information that's sent to the brain via the optical nerve so the information can be “translated” into actual images. The macula has a high concentration of photoreceptor cells. AMD occurs in two forms, dry and wet. In the dry form, yellow spots form over the macula, blocking portions of your vision. This form tends to progress slowly. In the wet form, weak blood vessels grow over the surface of the macula, often leaking blood and blocking vision. The wet form usually occurs very quickly. AMD does not cause total blindness, but loss of central vision prevents a person's ability to read, use a computer, drive and perform many other activities.
AMD is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam with dilation to look at the retina and evaluate it for signs of damage. Some cases of AMD are diagnosed before they causes symptoms, while other people may have already begun experiencing some central vision loss.
Currently, there is no cure for AMD, but there are some steps that can be taken to help manage the condition and slow the progression of the disease. You may be advised to take certain vitamin supplements and to wear protective sunglasses to help optimize the health of your retina and your eyes. If you have the wet form of AMD, lasers may be used to prevent the growth or new blood vessels or prevent blood leakage. In both forms of the disease, routine monitoring will be essential to determine if and how fast AMD is progressing.
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