February is Age Related Macular Degeneration Month
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a type of eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly in developed countries. In a person’s forties or fifties, subtle abnormalities indicating changes in vision may occur. Vision distortion and loss typically appear in a person’s sixties or seventies and worsen over time.
Age-related macular degeneration primarily affects central vision, which is required for detailed tasks like reading, driving, and facial recognition.The gradual deterioration of light-sensing cells in the tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color causes vision loss in this condition (the retina). AMD, in particular, affects the macula, a small area near the center of the retina that is responsible for central vision. Side (peripheral) vision and night vision are generally unaffected, but in the early stages of the disease, slow adaptation to darkness (dark adaptation) and reduced dim light (scotopic) vision are common.
Types of AMD
The dry form and the wet form of age-related macular degeneration have been described by researchers. The dry form of AMD is far more common, accounting for 85 to 90 percent of all cases. It is distinguished by the accumulation of yellowish deposits beneath the retina known as drusen, as well as progressive vision loss. Geographic atrophy is the most advanced stage of dry age-related macular degeneration, in which areas of the macula waste away (atrophy), resulting in severe vision loss. Dry age-related macular degeneration usually affects both eyes, though vision loss often occurs in one eye first.
The dry form of AMD progresses to the wet form in 10 to 15% of affected individuals. The wet form is distinguished by the formation of abnormal, fragile blood vessels beneath the macula. These vessels leak blood and fluid, causing macula damage and making central vision appear blurry and distorted. The wet form of AMD causes severe vision loss that can progress quickly.
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Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay