Age related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible central vision loss in elderly patients. Dilated funduscopic findings are diagnostic; color photographs, fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography assist in confirming the diagnosis and in directing treatment.

AMD damages cells in the eye’s macula, the center portion of the retina that allows you to see objects clearly. There is no cure, but some cases are treatable and vision can often be stabilized or improved with early detection and treatment.

There are two major types of ARMD, a “dry” (non-neo-vascular) and “wet” (non vascular) form. The dry form is the early stage. It is the most common form of AMD. There is usually little or no vision loss during this stage. Some patients may have significant vision loss from more advanced “dry” degeneratio namely geographic atrophy. The wet form is a late stage of the condition and affects about 10% of all people with the condition. Wet accounts for the majority of central vision loss due to AMD. The wet type implies leakage and bleeding in the macula due to abnormal blood vessels, known as choroidal neovascularization. These abnormal blood vessels start to grow beneath the center of the macula and, as they grow, they leak fluid or blood and cause central vision loss with blurring and distortion of vision. Untreated, these abnormal blood vessels typically will grow relatively large and eventually cause scarring with permanent and often severe central vision loss.

Risk Factors

  • Age older than 50.
  • Family history of AMD.
  • History of smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • Lack of vitamins and antioxidants in diet.

What are the symptoms of AMD?

  • Gradual loss of central vision.
  • Distortion of straight lines.
  • Blurry vision when reading.
  • Blind spot in or near the central vision.

Treatment of Dry AMD

Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment for dry AMD. However, high-dose micro-nutrients—specifically vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc—are recommended for those patients at high risk of progressing to advanced AMD. A major clinical trial found this daily regimen to decrease such patients’ risk by about 25 percent, thereby slowing disease progression and reducing vision loss. Consult your ophthalmologist regarding the best supplement for you.

Treatment of Wet AMD

There are several treatment Options for wet AMD, depending on the stage of the disease and the location of the abnormal blood vessels. To date, the only treatment that has shown an improvement in visual acuity is anti-VEGF (vaso-endothelial growth factor) medication that is injected into the eye.

Anti-VEGF medications block the protein (VEGF) that is responsible for new blood vessel growth. In wet AMD, these medications help stop the growth of the new blood vessels in the retina. They may slow the progression of vision loss and, in some cases, even improve vision. An ophthalmologist will inject the medication into the eye. Multiple injections, given on a monthly basis are often required for the treatment to be effective.