Adult Macular Degeneration
DefinitionThe retina is the tissue that lines the back of the eye. It sends visual signals to the brain. The macula is part of the retina. It is responsible for central vision. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of destruction of the macula in older adults. It causes a gradual loss of sharp, central vision. The condition is mainly a disease of aging. In rare cases, it can occur in younger people.
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- Dry AMD—This occurs when an area of the retina becomes diseased. This leads to a slow breakdown of cells in the macula. The central vision is gradually lost. Dry AMD accounts for the majority of cases.
- Wet AMD—As dry AMD worsens, new blood vessels may begin to grow. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid under the macula. This can lead to permanent damage of the macular region. Wet AMD is uncommon. But, it accounts for the majority of blindness from this disease.
CausesThe cause of AMD is not known.
Risk FactorsGenerally risk increases with age. AMD is most commonly seen in women and in people who are Caucasian. Other factors that may increase your chance of getting AMD include:
- Family members with AMD
- Heavy alcohol use
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Cardiovascular risks, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- A diet that is low in green, leafy vegetables
SymptomsIn some people, AMD advances slowly. It has little effect on their vision. In others, the disease moves faster. It may lead to significant vision loss. Neither dry AMD nor wet AMD causes pain.Symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty seeing details in front of you, such as faces or words in a book
- Blurred vision that goes away in brighter light
- A small, but growing blind spot in the middle of your field of vision
- Straight lines (such as door frames) appear crooked or distorted
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