Macular Degeneration is characterized by yellow deposits or pigment distortions within the area of central vision in the eye (the macula). These clusters have very little visual symptoms in early stages, but can progress to cause severe central vision distortion and even blindness.
Later stages of AMD are subcategorized into non-neovascular (dry) and neovascular (wet) type AMD. Dry AMD develops more slowly as deterioration of macular pigment occurs, causing slow progressive loss of central vision. Wet AMD is characterized by the presence of blood and or fluid betneath the macula. Leaky blood vessels from deeper vascular layers produce this fluid, which may convert normal elements of the macula to scar tissue. This can lead to a permanent central blind spot.
Risks: There is no known definitive cause for AMD. Risk factors include family history, smoking, age over 60, high blood pressure and a low lifetime intake of foods containing antioxidants (found in green and yellow vegetables).
Symptoms: Early AMD may not produce any significant visual symptoms, however late stages of wet AMD can cause difficulty reading small print, the need for brighter light, and small dark spots in their vision. In some cases, AMD may only effect one eye and may take years to effect the other eye.
-darkness or blind spots in central vision
-blurred near vision
-loss of detail, both near and far
-straight lines appear wavy or distorted
-colors become dimmed
Treatment: There is no cure for dry or wet AMD, however, there are therapeutic measures that can be taken to help prevent the conversion of dry to wet AMD. Macular vitamins are available as a tool to help strengthen macular components from developing leaky blood vessels. Once blood vessels begin to leak fluid and blood, treatments become more aggressive and include injections, laser therapy, and photodynamic therapy.