Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina, called the macula, is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock's numbers but not the hands.
There are two types of AMD: Wet and Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration. 80% of the people with who have AMD have the dry form.
Dry AMD is when parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way yet to treat Dry AMD.
Wet AMD is a less common, but much more serious for of Macular Degeneration. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. Vision loss occurs faster with Wet AMD than with Dry AMD.
Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist, who can look for early signs of AMD before you have any vision problems.
Are You at Risk for AMD?
You are more likely to develop AMD if you:
- Eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter, and cheese)
- Are overweight
- Smoke cigarettes
- Are over 50 years old
- Have a family history of AMD
- Are Caucasian (white)
- Have heart disease
- Have high cholesterol
Talk to your family and find out if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with, or is suspected of having AMD. It is important to convey this information to your ophthalmologist.