The surgeons of Ophthalmic Consultants of Connecticut are experienced in the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a serious eye condition that involves the breakdown of the macula, a small area located at the center of the retina that is responsible for high-resolution central vision. It is the macula that allows us to see fine details when we read, do computer work or drive. When the macula begins to break down due to AMD, the central vision becomes blurry, dark and/or distorted. AMD affects vision at all distances and may lead to severe impairment as the condition advances.
What Causes AMD?
AMD is generally a result of the natural aging process. However, additional risk factors that contribute to development of AMD include heredity, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, light eye color and certain drugs.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), more than 1.7 million individuals currently suffer from AMD and another 3 million are expected to develop AMD by 2020.
The most common AMD symptoms include:
- Progressive loss of pinpoint vision
- Gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted or blurry central vision
- Blind spots in the center of the field of vision
Dry and Wet AMD
The most common type of AMD is dry AMD, representing more than 90 percent of all AMD cases. When left untreated, dry AMD may progress to a more severe form of AMD called wet AMD.
Dry AMD is caused by an accumulation of drusen, or yellowish spots, in the macula, which are believed to come from deteriorating tissue within the eye. The loss of tissue leads to thinning of the macula and thus loss of central vision. As dry AMD advances, the body’s defense mechanism triggers the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula in an attempt to fight off the disease. However, due to their fragile state, the blood vessels begin to leak fluid and blood into the macula, resulting in severe loss of central vision.
AMD Treatment Options
AMD is a progressive disease that cannot be cured. However, available treatments can often halt the progression of AMD, thereby preserving the patient’s remaining central vision.
While no FDA-approved treatments for dry AMD exist, clinical research has demonstrated that certain nutritional supplements, including the combination of Vitamins A, C and E with zinc, can help slow the progression of intermediate to advanced dry AMD.
The most common treatments for wet AMD include:
- Laser surgery to destroy the fragile, abnormal blood vessels
- Photodynamic therapy, which involves the combination of a drug called verteporfin (Visudyne) and light
- Injections that target a specific growth factor (VEGF) that contributes to the formation of abnormal blood vessels
Our physicians are extremely experienced in detecting and diagnosing AMD. Please contact us today to learn more.