What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. The eye’s macula (small part of the retina) deteriorates and fine details in central vision become difficult to see. Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration.

Symptoms of AMD – Blurriness, dark areas or distortion in your central vision, and perhaps permanent loss of your central vision. It usually does not affect your side, or peripheral vision.

Who is at risk?  Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include:

  • Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
  • Race. AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
  • Family history. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.

Causes of AMD – include the formation of deposits called drusen under the retina, and in some cases, the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. With or without treatment, macular degeneration alone almost never causes total blindness. People with more advanced cases of macular degeneration continue to have useful vision using their side, or peripheral vision.

The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. Consult with your eye doctor is you have any symptoms of macular degeneration.

Graphic Courtesy of National Eye Institute

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