Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans ages 65 and older. The condition occurs when the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive, deteriorates. Because the macula primarily is affected in AMD, central vision loss may occur. There are two forms of AMD: wet and dry. Patients with wet AMD develop new blood vessels under the retina. This causes hemorrhages, swelling, and scar tissue. Dry AMD is much more common and is characterized by drusen (small, yellowish deposits) and loss of pigment in the retina.
Risk factors include:
- blue eyes
- high blood pressure
- cardiovascular disease
1.75 million U.S. residents have advanced age-related macular degeneration. The number of cases is expected to rise to almost 3 million by 2020.
Macular degeneration usually produces a slow, or rarely, sudden painless loss of vision. Early signs of vision loss from AMD include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. Retinal exams can detect early signs of macular degeneration before symptoms occur. When macular degeneration is suspected, a brief test to measure your central vision may be performed.
Dry AMD cannot currently be treated, which does not mean you will lose your sight. Fortunately, dry AMD develops very slowly. Although you may lose some of your central vision over the years, most people are able to have normal, active lives, especially if AMD affects only one eye. Currently, Retina Institute of Hawaii is excepting enrollment for a clinical trial, which seeks a new care option for wet AMD. NeoVista’s Novel Wet AMD Therapy includes a one-time treatment of a targeted dose of beta radiation to leaking blood vessels and two injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor. Other treatment options for wet AMD are also available.