Macular degeneration is a disease that becomes increasingly common with age. The full name is actually age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. The macula is the region of the central retina where many light receptors are concentrated close together. This high concentration of light receptors allows us to see great detail in our central vision. Macular degeneration is a process in which there is a breakdown in the layers of the retina that support and nourish these light receptors resulting in diminished central vision. The condition is categorized into two forms. The first of these is “dry” macular degeneration. In this type, there is breakdown of the supporting retinal layers and loss of central vision, but no new blood vessel growth or fluid leakage of retinal blood vessels. The second type, or “wet” macular degeneration, is characterized by growth of new blood vessels. These blood vessels tend to leak, which is where the name “wet” comes from. This new blood vessel growth and related fluid leakage often result in significant and rapid vision loss.
Macular Degeneration Prevention and Management
The first step in prevention is to recognize the risk factors in your family history and lifestyle choices that may put you at higher risk. While of course we can’t change our genetic risk profile, it is possible to make lifestyle choices to minimize your risk of macular degeneration. If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, regular monitoring, both at our office by Dr. Adelman, and by you at home, will be an important part of preserving your vision. This monitoring is important to find any new blood vessel growth that may signify “dry” macular degeneration converting to “wet” macular degeneration. While dry macular degeneration treatment is limited at this time, there are a variety of treatments available for wet macular degeneration. But, it is important they are performed at the proper time to preserve vision.