What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related macular degeneration (ARMD) occurs when the center part of the retina called the macula, begins to deteriorate. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.
- DRY ARMD- Most people who have ARMD have the dry form. This condition is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. It usually develops gradually and causes central vision to become dimmer or more blurry over time. In about 10% of patients, dry ARMD can turn into wet ARMD.
- WET ARMD- The wet form accounts for only about 1 out of 10 cases of macular degeneration. The wet form occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. This can cause serious vision loss within months or even weeks.
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Who is at risk for ARMD?
- Anyone can get ARMD. Factors that may increase your risk include:
- Age – Age is the most significant risk factor. Your risk increases as you age, especially after age 50. ARMD is most common in people older than 65.
- Family history of ARMD
- Race – ARMD is more common in Caucasians than it is in other races.
- Unhealthy diet – A poor diet that includes few fruits and vegetables may increase the risk of ARMD.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Elevated cholesterol
What are the symptoms?
- The main symptom of ARMD is decreased central vision. Additional symptoms may include:
- Need for increasingly bright light to see up close.
- Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant.
- A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors.
- Distorted vision- straight lines will appear bent, crooked or irregular.
- A blurred or blank spot in the center of your field of vision.
Many people do not experience immediate symptoms until it has progressed.
How is it diagnosed?
ARMD can easily be diagnosed through a dilated eye exam by your ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist may also take pictures and/or scans of your retina.
How is it treated?
Unfortunately, at this time there is currently no cure for ARMD. However, a large scientific study has shown that there are certain vitamins that have been proven to slow down the progression of vision loss. If you have wet ARMD, injections and/or laser surgery may be needed to treat the leaking blood vessels.