We use our central vision every day for seeing objects clearly and for reading and driving. The eye disease that gradually destroys sharp, central vision associated with aging is age-related macular degeneration or AMD.

AMD affects the macula. This is the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. The condition causes no pain. In some cases, the condition advances so slowly people notice little change in their vision. The disease progresses faster in others and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.

There are two forms of AMD:

• Wet: This occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. If these new blood vessels leak blood and fluid, damage to the macula occurs rapidly.
• Dry: Occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down and causes gradual blurring in the affected eye. As it gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye.

What are the symptoms of wet AMD?

• An early symptom is when straight lines appear wavy. If this symptom occurs, or any other changes to your vision, contact your eye care professional immediately.

What are the symptoms of dry AMD?

• The most common symptom of the dry form is slightly blurred vision. You may have problems recognizing faces. You may need more light for reading and other tasks.
• Another common early sign of the dry form is “drusen.”

Does dry AMD affect both eyes?

• It generally affects both eyes, however, vision can be lost in one eye, while the other eye seems unaffected

What are drusen?

• Yellow deposits under the retina often found in people over age 60
• An eye care professional can detect drusen during a comprehensive dilated eye exam
• Drusen alone does not usually cause vision loss.
• Scientists know that an increase in the size or number of drusen raises a person’s risk of developing either advanced dry or wet AMD, which can cause serious vision loss.

There are three stages of dry AMD, all of which can occur in one or both eyes:

• Early AMD: People who have either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. There are no symptoms and no vision loss.
• Intermediate AMD: People who have either many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen. These people may see a blurred spot in the center of their vision or need more light for reading and other tasks.
• Advanced Dry AMD: People with advanced type have a breakdown of light-sensitive cells and support tissue in the central retinal area that causes a blurred spot in the center of vision. Throughout time, it may become difficult to read or recognize faces until they are very close to you.

Vision loss from dry AMD in one eye only may not cause changes in overall vision. With the other eye seeing clearly, you can still drive, read and see fine details. Changes in vision may occur only if AMD affects both eyes.

Ninety percent of all people with AMD have the dry type. Scientists are still searching for answers for the causes of dry type.

Source: National Eye Institute

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional

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