Helping Patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration. The most common type is Dry AMD. The cause is unknown. The macular cells gradually begin to break down. As this occurs, you may start to lose central vision. This often initially occurs in just one eye. However, the disease may occur in the other eye later. Wet AMD is the second type of this disease. It is much more rare, but accounts for the majority of the blindness from the disease. Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels in the retina start to grow toward the macula. They are very fragile and often leak blood and fluid under the macula. This causes macular damage and a rapid loss of central vision. The risk for developing AMD increases as you get older. Women may be at higher risk than men. Smoking may increase the risk of AMD. People with a family history of AMD may be at higher risk as are people with elevated levels of blood cholesterol. Dry AMD cannot be treated at this time. Fortunately, this form of the disease progresses very slowly. Eventually some central vision may be lost, but most people with dry AMD lead normal, active lives. Some forms of wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery. The laser is used to stop the leaking blood vessels before further damage occurs.