Macular Degeneration

 

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD), is a medical condition which may result in a vision impairment from deterioration of the central part of the retina. It’s the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people over age 60.

 

Early on there are often no symptoms. Over time, however, some people experience a gradual worsening of vision that may affect one or both eyes. While it does not result in complete blindness, loss of central vision can make it hard to recognize faces, drive, read, or perform other activities of daily life. Visual hallucinations may also occur but these do not represent a mental illness.

Dry vs Wet Macular Degeneration

There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration:

  • Dry form. People with this may have yellow deposits, called drusen, in their macula. A few small drusen may not cause changes in your vision. But as they get bigger and more numerous, they might dim or distort your vision, especially when you read. As the condition gets worse, the light-sensitive cells in your macula get thinner and eventually die. In the atrophic form, you may have blind spots in the center of your vision. As that gets worse, you might lose central vision.

  • Wet form. Blood vessels grow from underneath your macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into your retina. Your vision is distorted so that straight lines look wavy. You may also have blind spots and loss of central vision. These blood vessels and their bleeding eventually form a scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.