Patient Education

Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration or Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is the deterioration of the macula, which is the small central area of the retina of the eye that is reaponsible for sharp, central vision. Because AMD affects your central vision, activities such as reading, sewing, driving, and all other straight-ahead visual tasks become much more difficult. Unfortunately, AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people 60 years of age and older.

  • Classifications
  • Risk Factors
  • Detection
  • Treatment
  • Dry AMD

Occurs when cells in the macula break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry ARMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision which progresses to central vision loss.

  • Wet AMD

This form of AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye, causing rapid damage to the macula.

  • Family history
  • Age (usually 50 and over)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Females more than males
  • White population
  • Possibly high blood pressure
  • Possibly lighter eye colour

AMD is detected by an eye care professional during a comprehensive eye exam that includes visual acuity testing, which uses the eye chart to measure how well you see at various distances, and a detailed retinal evaluation. Your eye care professional may also do other tests to help detect AMD, such as the Amsler Grid test or a visual field analysis.

There is currently no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but some treatments may delay its progression or even improve vision. Treatments for macular degeneration depend on whether the disease is in its early-stage dry form or in the more advanced wet form.

Some studies have shown that supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin help to delay and possibly prevent AMD from progressing to the advanced stage. Popular brands of vitamins for macular degneration include Ocuvite, PreserVision, and Vitalux.

For wet AMD, treatments aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth include FDA-approved drugs called Lucentis, Avastin, Eylea, and variou others. Lucentis in particular has been shown to improve vision in a significant number of people with macular degeneration.