Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, occurs when the macula, an area of the retina that allows you to have detailed central vision, breaks down. It does not affect peripheral vision, which is the ability to see general shapes “out of the corner of your eye” even when you’re looking straight ahead. The macula is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provide sharp, central vision. It is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. The retina turns light into electrical signals and then sends these electrical signals through the optic nerve to the brain, where they are translated into the images we see. When the macula is damaged, the center of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted, or dark.
There are two main types of AMD:
- Dry AMD (atrophic, non-neovascular) is the most common form. In Dry AMD, the tissues of the retina thin over time and small pieces of fatty protein develop under the retina, causing vision loss to occur gradually.
- Wet AMD (exudative) only affects about 10% of patients with AMD. Typically, the condition develops in people who already have dry AMD. Wet AMD creates more damage than dry AMD and progresses more quickly as blood vessels grow under the retina and leak fluid or blood (exudate).
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of permanent impairment of reading and fine or close-up vision among people aged 65 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC estimates that 1.8 million Americans aged 40 years and older are affected by Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Another 7.3 million Americans who have large deposits in the retina called drusen, are at increased risk of developing AMD. By 2020, due to our aging populations, the number of Americans with AMD is predicted reach an estimated 2.95 million.