Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

The macula is a small, but extremely important area located at the center of the retina, the light-sensing tissue that lines the back of the eye. It is responsible for seeing fine details clearly.

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD), is a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision in the center of the visual field.

Early on there are often no symptoms. Over time, however, some people experience a gradual worsening of vision that may affect one or both eyes. While it does not result in complete blindness, loss of central vision can make it hard to recognize faces, drive, read, or perform other activities of daily life.

The causes
Macular degeneration is caused by advancing age, genetic predisposition and cumulative environmental and lifestyle damage, in particular smoking. It is also associated with several cardiovascular risk factors.

Types of AMD
  • Dry AMD
It develops when the cells of the macula become damaged due to lack of nutrients and a build-up of waste products called drusen. It is the most common and least serious type of AMD accounting for around 9 out of 10 cases. The loss of vision is gradual occurring over many years. However, an estimated 1 in 10 people with dry AMD will then go on to develop wet AMD, which is a much more serious condition that can cause rapid loss of central vision.
  • Wet AMD
Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula, which can bleed, leak and eventually scar, causing damage to the cells of the retina. Wet AMD is more serious and without treatment vision can deteriorate within days.

Treatments & Suggestions
Antiangiogenic drugs injected directly into the eye, or in limited special cases, laser coagulation or photodynamic therapy may slow progression of wet AMD.

Most people with wet AMD need to have these injections several times a year. Laser treatment is also available for AMD, but is not effective for most cases.
There is currently no treatment for dry AMD now.
Wise ways you can reduce your risk of getting AMD, or your AMD becoming worse are:
  • stop smoking if you are a smoker
  • moderate your consumption of alcohol
  • at a healthy diet high with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • try to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  • consider taking vitamin and mineral supplementation