Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the macula (a special region of the retina that is located at the central back wall of the eye and is responsible for clear detailed vision) becomes damaged due to a progressive, degeneration of healthy cells resulting in loss of central vision. There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: 1) Dry AMD and 2) Wet AMD.
Dry AMD, also known as non exudative or non neovascular, is the most common type accounting for 80 to 85% of all cases of AMD. The special cells in the macula responsible for vision (RPE and photoreceptor cells) degenerate with age due to structural and biochemical processes. This disease is not a normal aging process, and there are hereditary and as yet not fully understood factors that cause the disease. Certain vitamin supplement, AREDS 2 formula, can reduce the risk of progression of Dry AMD into a more advanced stage.
There is a form of advanced type of Dry AMD, called GA, or Geographic Atrophy (due to the findings of large patches [like geography] of the macula thinning [atrophy] leading to loss of cells resulting in severe central loss of vision. New treatment for GA was approved by the FDA in February 2023 and is currently available. The goal of treatment is to diagnose early and start treatment for GA prior to loss of central vision.
Wet AMD (also known as exudative or neovascular AMD), accounts for 10 to 15% of all AMD cases. New, fragile, abnormal blood vessels (choroidal or sub retinal neovascularization) grow under the retina causing fluid accumulation or bleeding. This causes a more rapid progression of damage and loss of central vision compared to Dry AMD. Early detection and prompt treatment are key ways to reduce vision loss and in some cases may help regain some but not all of the vision that has been lost. The treatment is done by injecting a special medicine into the eye (vitreous cavity) after anesthetizing the eye, known as an intravitreal injection treatment.
Retinal angiography for diagnosis and evaluation
AMD cannot be reserved. There's also no cure. However, treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can help to slow the disease progression and keep you from having severe loss of vision. Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your condition.
Treatment for AMD is based on the findings and stages of the disease. The retina specialist can determine based on the examination and diagnostic tests, which type of macular degeneration you have, and the best, current treatment options available.
The natural history of AMD varies greatly from patient to patient. Most patients do not reach the stage of being legally blind in the central area of vision, but some will be impacted significantly. Early detection, and ongoing monitoring is key to catching stages of the disease that can be treated.