There is a small area of concentrated cells on the retina called the macula, which is responsible for central vision. The macula allows us to see finer details, such as words in a book, features of someone’s face, or the leaves on a tree. As we age, the macula is at an increased risk of deterioration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical term used to describe the deteriorating effects that can develop on the macula. AMD is caused from a combination of genetics, age, and environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke. AMD can be categorized as either wet or dry.
The most common form of AMD is Dry AMD, which accounts for roughly 90 percent of all macular degeneration cases. It happens when the macular cells slowly break down or degenerate, resulting in blurred central vision. Over time, patients can experience a complete loss of central vision, resulting in the inability to make out details in faces or words while reading. Once AMD reaches the most advanced stage, nothing can help the patient regain vision. However, a doctor might be able to delay and possibly prevent the middle stages of AMD from progressing to the advanced stage.
It is important for those over 50, especially those who have a family history of AMD or those who smoke, to undergo an annual dilated eye examination to look for macular degeneration.