What is AMD?

The initials AMD stand for a disorder called age-related macular degeneration. AMD is a disease that affects part of the back of the eye called the macula, the central part of the retina. This can cause the center part of your vision to become blurry or wavy. It could also cause a blind spot in the center of your vision.

What are the types of AMD?

There are two types of AMD.

“Wet” AMD This type of AMD causes the most serious vision loss. In this form of the disease, tiny unhealthy blood vessels grow under the retina. These blood vessels often break and leak, causing a loss in vision.

“Dry” AMD This type of AMD is the most common form of the disease. It usually progresses more slowly than “wet” AMD.

Am I at risk for AMD?

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for Americans age 65 and older. As you age, your risk for AMD increases. You can help to prevent losing your vision to AMD by visiting your eye doctor regularly, learning and watching for the signs of AMD, and taking care of yourself.

What signs of AMD should I watch for?

Over time, the symptoms of AMD become more obvious. If you have AMD there are several symptoms that you may notice, such as: straight lines, such as telephone poles, streetlight poles, or the sides of buildings, look wavy, type looks blurry, and/or a dark or empty spot may block the center of your vision.

What is my best defense against AMD?

The key to preventing vision loss is regular eye exams. If you are 65 or older, you should get a complete eye exam every one or two years, even if you have no problem seeing well. Be sure to ask your eye doctor for a dilated eye exam.

What if I have AMD?

If you have AMD, you must check the central vision in each of your eyes separately every day. If you notice any changes such as having trouble reading, or seeing straight lines that appear to be wavy, tell your eye doctor right away.

What treatments are available for AMD?

Laser treatments can help some people with “wet” AMD. There are two types of laser treatments available to help remove the blood vessels under the retina in patients with “wet” AMD.

A recent study offers some hope for people with moderate and advanced stages of AMD. The study suggests that a combination of zinc, vitamins C and E, and beta carotene may help slow vision loss from moderate and advanced cases of AMD. While these supplements may slow the disease at later stages, they are not a cure.  Ask your doctor about these vitamins before taking large doses.