Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of blindness in the developed world. It affects older people in one or both eyes.

AMD affects the macula of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina which is used for fine central vision. When the macula is affected, central vision is loss. Peripheral vision, which does not see so clearly as central vision, is preserved.

 

 

Central vision loss from age related macular degeneration (AMD)

Central vision loss as may occur in age-related macular degeneration. Credits: AAO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 2 types of AMD. Dry and Wet AMD.  Both types can cause blindness but vision loss with wet AMD is more sudden.

In dry AMD there are changes in the macula called drusen and thinning out of the macula layer called geographic atrophy.

 

Dry AMD

Dry Age related macular degeneration (AMD) showing drusen. Credits: AAO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In wet AMD, there are changes such as bleeding, leakage of fluid and swelling at the macula. Ultimately, scarring occurs and leads to vision loss.

Wet AMD

Wet Age related macula degeneration (AMD) showing a sub-retinal neovascular membrane. Credit: AAO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment of Age related Macular Degeneration

Early in the disease, treatment consists of regular injections into the eye of medicines called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (Anti-VEGF).  Several injections spread over months may be required and  for a few years.

Some forms of AMD are also treated with lasers and special injected medicine in what is called photodynamic therapy (PDT). Sometimes, steroids are also injected into the eye.

If one eye is severely affected, special eye vitamins are taken to reduce the occurrence of AMD in the other eye.

If both eyes are severely affected, visual rehabilitation with low vision devices is the treatment.

How to prevent blindness from Age related Macular Degeneration

If you have signs of dry AMD in any eye, you should monitor your vision regularly with an Amsler Grid. An Amsler Grid is a piece of paper printed with small squares.

Amsler Grid

Amsler Grid. A piece of paper printed with small squares used to check for signs of age related macular degeneration. Credit: AAO

Cover one eye. With the other eye, look at the centre of the grid.

If you see any area of the printed squares with distortion or wavy lines or you do not see some small squares, you should seek medical assistance immediately.