Age-Related Macular Degeneration, also known as ARMD, is a disease where the macula begins to deteriorate causing a loss of central vision. The macular is responsible for seeing fine details for tasks such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces. With ARMD, images will look blurry, distorted, or missing.

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View inside the human eye showing a healthy retina, optic nerve, and macula

Causes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Although the exact cause is still unknown, age, as the name implies, is the greatest risk factor for developing ARMD. People over the age of 60 are at the greatest risk. It more often affects women more than men, Caucasians and lightly pigmented people (with light hair, skin and eyes), and those who have a family history of ARMD.

There are two types of ARMD: Dry and Wet.

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Dry ARMD:

Dry ARMD is the most common as it affects more than 85 percent of people with ARMD. Dry ARMD typically advances very slowly. In many cases, its progression is so slow it is not immediately noticed by the patient. With dry ARMD, the macula begins to break down causing blurred vision. Patients may develop dry ARMD in both eyes. One of the tell-tale signs of dry ARMD is the appearance of drusen, or tiny deposits under the retina.

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Wet ARMD:

Wet ARMD, also known as Advanced Exudative or Hemmhoragic, occurs in 15 percent of patients over the age of 80. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the macula. These vessels are fragile and either leak or bleed underneath the macula. The macular distortion that results causes severe changes or loss in vision.

Treatment:

There is not cure or current treatment for dry ARMD. Patients at risk should be dilated annually or if a sudden change in vision occurs as patients with Dry ARMD have the potential to turn into its more severe counterpart, Wet ARMD.

Treatment:

There are now many methods to treat wet ARMD being studied. The newest involves the injection in to the eye of cell inhibitors called Anti-VEGF drugs. These medications can be sight saving if treatment is started soon after diagnosis. Patients with “wet macular degeneration” require continued monitoring for the rest of their life to prevent severe irreversible vision loss.

Prevention Efforts

If you have a family history of ARMD or have recently been diagnosed with the disease, it is important to have a dilated eye examination once a year.

It is also important to monitor your vision for any changes by using an Amsler Grid. If you have been diagnosed with ARMD, you should notify our office if you notice any change in your vision. It is very important not to delay treatment.

Clinical research has shown that vitamin supplements may be beneficial in some but not all cases of macular degeneration. It is important to talk with your eye doctor before starting vitamin supplements.