Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye condition that affects macula, a small part at the back of the eye. Macula is the area of eye that helps us to differentiate the finer details. Damage to macula leads to gradual blurring of central vision. Macular degeneration impairs sharp vision and affects a number of normal day-to-day activities, like reading, watching television, and driving. As side vision is not affected, macular degeneration does not lead to complete loss of vision in the eyes. It causes a blank region in the center of vision. There are two types of macular degeneration – wet and dry. Dry form of macular degeneration is the most common type while wet type is the severe form of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is caused by the damage of nerve cells in the macular region of the eye. The cause of this condition varies with the type of degeneration. Dry form of the condition is caused by the thinning and degeneration of macula with age. Waste accumulates at the back of the eye which gradually damages the macula. Wet form of macular degeneration results from the formation of abnormal blood vessels at the back of the eye. Blood leaks from the fragile and broken blood vessels under the macula and this damage the region.
Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing AMD include:
- Smoking tobacco
- Family history
The most common symptom of macular degeneration is blurring of central vision. Objects will appear hazy and sometimes smaller than their usual size. As the disease progresses, it may start affecting activities like reading, watching television and driving. The dry form of the disease progresses gradually and the person may not recognize the problems in vision for a long time. In wet form of macular degeneration straight lines may look curved and the disease may progress quickly.
A regular eye exam and vision tests will help in diagnosing the condition. This eye condition is diagnosed by the presence of yellowish white waste at the back of the eye. Macular degeneration does not have a complete cure as of now. Having foods containing lots of antioxidants will help in reducing the progression of the disease and also loss of vision.
Some of the treatment methods normally used for treating this eye condition include:
- Photodynamic therapy
- Laser surgery