What is macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in older people. It’s an eye disease that can begin in a person’s 40s or 50s with distorted vision. The condition tends to worsen over time and becomes more noticeable in a person’s 60s or 70s. It currently affects about 11 million people in the United States.

Causes of age-related macular degeneration

This condition results from a combination of environmental and genetic causes. Age is the most important factor, since the risks increase as a person gets older. Smoking is also a risk factor.

People are more likely to develop AMD if they have a family history of this disease. Being Caucasian also raises your risk.

There are two types of AMD: wet and dry. Dry AMD is much more common and progresses more slowly. It typically affects both eyes, but vision loss can occur in one eye before the other. Dry AMD causes thinning of the macula. This causes blurred vision.

Wet AMD results from an abnormal growth of blood vessels that form under the macula. The blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the eye and cause blind spots. Wet AMD can progress very quickly. In some cases, dry AMD can turn into wet AMD.

Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration

AMD doesn’t lead to complete blindness. However, these symptoms can occur over time:

  • There is a blurry area in the center of your vision
  • The blurry area may get bigger
  • Blank spots may appear in your vision
  • Straight lines may start to look wavy

Diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration

Ophthalmologists check for AMD with a dilated eye exam. They’ll put drops in your eye to dilate your pupils so they can check for AMD. This exam is simple and painless.

You may also use a special chart called an Amsler grid. You can use this at home to check your vision.

Treatment of age-related macular degeneration

There’s no treatment for early AMD. Your eye doctor will recommend regular eye exams to keep track of your vision. If you smoke, you should quit.

For intermediate or late AMD, special dietary supplements may stop it from getting worse. If you have wet macular degeneration, there are treatments that may help further vision loss. These treatments include medicines that the doctor injects into your eye and laser treatment called photodynamic therapy.

Why choose Ohio State for age-related macular degeneration treatment

At The Ohio State University Havener Eye Institute, we use state-of-the-art treatments with personalized eye care for each patient. Our retinal specialists have been trained at world-renowned institutions across the country, making our institute one of the top eye-care facilities in the nation.

The Robinson Advanced Imaging Center provides our patients access to the most advanced ophthalmic imaging available. Imaging is critical in monitoring the progression and treatment of AMD. At the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, we’re also passionate about leading the way in research and innovation. We’re proud to support the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's very own Katelyn Swindle-Reilly, PhD, and Matthew Ohr, MD, in their unique technology that allows for extended release of AMD drug treatment, thus allowing for less frequent drug administration.

Macular degeneration treatment

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the center of the retina and is more common in older adults. Fatoumata Yanoga, MD, explains the difference between dry and wet macular degeneration, how people are screened and the new treatment options giving patients new hope.
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