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by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Age-Related Macular Degeneration, AMD)

Definition

Adult macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease where a person loses their central vision. It gets worse over time. The macula is the part of the retina that controls central vision. The retina is the tissue that lines the back of the eye. AMD happens when the macula wears down.

There are 2 types:

  • Dry form—parts of the macula get thinner and protein deposits called drusen affect vision
  • Wet form—new blood vessels grow under the macula and leak blood and other fluids into the retina
Macular Degeneration
IMAGE
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Causes

The cause of AMD is not known.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in adults 50 years of age and older. It is also more common in people with dark-colored eyes.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

Symptoms

AMD may slowly get worse over time and have little effect on a person's vision. Others may have a lot of vision loss in a short amount of time. It does not cause pain.

A person with AMD may:

  • Have blurred eyesight that may get better in brighter light
  • Have problems seeing details in front of the eyes, such as faces or words in a book
  • Have a small but growing blind spot in the middle of a person's field of vision
  • See straight lines (such as door frames) as being crooked or distorted

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to suspect AMD.

A doctor who treats eyes will do an eye exam and view the retina. This can confirm the diagnosis.

Some people may need images taken of the eyes. This can be done with:

  • Angiography—uses a dye to make blood vessels easier to see
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)—uses a dim red light to take a picture of the retina

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to try to slow the disease’s progress. This will help people have their vision longer. How that is done depends on the type of AMD and how bad it is.

Dry AMD

Dry AMD cannot be treated. Things that may slow the disease are:

  • Vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Not smoking

Wet AMD

The goal of treating wet AMD is to reduce or destroy new blood vessels. This can be done with:

  • Laser photocoagulation—destroys new blood vessels with a strong laser light beam
  • Photodynamic therapy—uses a light-sensitive dye and laser light to destroy problem blood vessels
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor—a medicine injected in the fluid in the eye to reduce the number of new blood vessels

Prevention

To lower the risk of this problem:

  • Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts.
  • Make sure to get enough vitamins and minerals.
  • Use a hat and sunglasses when outside.
  • Do not smoke.

RESOURCES

American Macular Degeneration Foundation  https://www.macular.org 

Macular Degeneration Foundation  http://www.eyesight.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Optometrists  https://opto.ca 

Fighting Blindness Canada  https://fightingblindness.ca 

References

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd. Accessed April 29, 2022.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/age-related-macular-degeneration. Accessed April 29, 2022.

Macular degeneration. Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at: https://eyesight.org/macular-degeneration. Accessed April 29, 2022.

What is macular degeneration? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration. Accessed April 29, 2022.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2022
  • Update Date: 04/29/2022