ARMD is an eye disease in which there is deterioration of the retina (the area that is responsible for central vision) resulting in the decline of vision. Macular degeneration is painless and usually slowly progressive over years.
ARMD can be categorized as either dry (atrophic) or wet (exudative). Ninety percent of all macular degeneration is dry. This type is the most slowly progressive. Ten percent of ARMD is wet. The wet form is more quickly progressive and is responsible for most vision loss. The exact causes of age-related macular degeneration are still unknown. The dry form of AMD results from the aging and thinning of macular tissues and deposition of pigment in the macula. With wet AMD, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes retinal cells to die and creates blind spots in central vision.
The symptoms may include:
The risk factors include:
Although there is no cure for AMRD, there are exciting and promising new therapies that can slow the progression of vision loss and reverse it in some patients.
A recently published study of over 3600 people found that supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc oxide (known as AREDS vitamins) reduced certain patients’ risk of progressing to advanced AMD by about 28%.
There are drugs that can be injected into the eye to slow new blood vessel growth. These are “anti-angiogenic” drugs that work by blocking a protein in the eye that promotes the growth of abnormal blood vessels. In clinical trials, up to 1/3 or more of the patients receiving injections saw some improvement in vision. In almost all of the remaining patients in the study, vision loss stabilized.
For more information regarding macular degeneration, visit www.nei.nih.gov.