Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is a small area in the retina — the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.
Symptoms associated with age-related macular degeneration include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of the vision
Because vision loss is usually gradual, patients who develop macular degeneration must carefully and constantly monitor their central vision. As always, if you notice any changes in your vision, you should tell your ophthalmologist right away.
Types of Macular Degeneration: Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration
Dry, or atrophic, macular degeneration (also called non-neovascular macular degeneration) with drusen
While the “dry” form of macular degeneration has no treatment, some patients may benefit from a vitamin therapy regime. Most patients who have macular degeneration have the dry form. This condition is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Macular degeneration usually begins when tiny yellow or white pieces of fatty protein called drusen form under the retina. Eventually, the macula may become thinner and stop working properly.
Wet, or exudative, macular degeneration (also called neovascular macular degeneration)
Although about 10 percent of patients who have macular degeneration have the wet form, it can cause more damage to your central or detail vision than the dry form. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow underneath the retina. This blood vessel growth is called choroidal neovascularization (CNV) because these vessels grow from the layer under the retina called the choroid. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration may be faster and more noticeable than that from dry macular degeneration.
The longer these abnormal vessels leak or grow, the more risk you have of losing more of your detailed vision. Also, if abnormal blood vessel growth happens in one eye, there is a risk that it will occur in the other eye. The earlier that wet macular degeneration is diagnosed and treated, the better chance you have of preserving some or much of your central vision.
Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration
For some patients, a laser procedure may be used to treat their wet macular degeneration. For most, injections will be recommended.
Avastin®, Eylea® and Lucentis® are intravitreal injections because the medication is placed into the vitreous of the eye. Your ophthalmologist may measure your intraocular eye pressure before you leave the office. These injections will need to be repeated every four to eight weeks.
For more information regarding Avastin® for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, visit http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2012/nei-30a.htm.
For more information regarding Eylea® for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, visit http://www.eylea.us.
For more information regarding Lucentis® for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, visit http://www.lucentis.com.