Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration 2

FEATURE

Macular degeneration is a progressive deterioration of the macula, a small area located at the center of the retina — the inside part of the back of the eye. The macula allows you to see straight ahead and in fine detail, such as reading or recognizing faces. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of adult blindness in the United States. The most common form of macular degeneration is age-related, affecting patients over 50 years old.

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD: the dry form and the wet form. The dry form is more prevalent, and vision deteriorates gradually. In contrast, the wet form may result in a rapid loss of central vision caused by swelling from the abnormal growth of tiny blood vessels under the macula.

Risk factors:
• Age
• Smoking
• Family history of macular degeneration
• Excessive exposure to sunlight
• High blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease
• Being female and/or Caucasian

Treatment options

Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, there have been significant advances in treatments over the past few years. For the wet form of AMD, treatment options include thermal laser, photodynamic therapy, intravitreal corticosteroids and anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) intravitreal injections. 

There is no treatment for dry AMD, but studies have shown that multivitamins might decrease the likelihood of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration in some people.

Related:
How the eye functions
Maintaining healthy eyes
How the eye ages and how it can affect your ability to drive

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