What is Macular Degeneration?
Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition among people age 50 and older. It is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly.
In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disorder progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. The vision loss makes it difficult to recognize faces, drive a car, read, print, or do close work, such as sewing or fixing things around the house.
Despite the limited vision, AMD does not cause complete blindness as it generally does not effect side (peripheral) vision.
What are the forms of AMD that can cause vision loss?
There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet. Either form can advance and cause severe vision loss. The following is a brief description of each form of AMD:
- The dry form is more common and has three stages-early, intermediate, and advanced. It happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye.
- The wet form is considered advanced AMD and can be more severe. It happens when new blood vessels under the macula leak blood and fluid. Damage to the macula can occur rapidly.
Can the dry form turn into the wet form?
All people who have the wet form had the intermediate stage of the dry form first. The dry form also can suddenly turn into the wet form, even during early stage AMD. Eye care professionals have no way to tell if the dry form will turn into the more severe wet form. Dry AMD can turn into wet AMD at any time.
What are the symptoms of AMD?
Dry AMD has few symptoms in the early stages. It is important to have your eyes examined regularly before the disease progresses.
In the later stages, blurred vision is the most common symptom of dry AMD. Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be. As a result, you may have trouble recognizing faces. You may need more light for reading and doing other tasks. Both eyes can have dry AMD or one eye can be affected first.
During the early stages of wet AMD straight lines may appear wavy. People with wet AMD also may develop a blind spot, which results in the loss of central vision.
If you notice these or other changes to your vision, contact your eye care professional at once. Eye care professionals may be able to treat the condition before severe vision loss occurs.