By Dr. Amit Nene

Macular degeneration is a group of chronic, progressive degenerative disorder which affects the central part of vision thus causing difficulty in reading, writing, recognizing faces, Driving etc. it spares the peripheral visual field in most of the cases. It is one of the leading causes of retinal diseases causing severe vision loss in individuals over 50 years of age.

There are broadly two types of AMD:

DRY form of AMD affects 85-90% individuals with Age related macular degeneration. It begins with deposition of yellowish degenerated material in the retina called as Drusen. Drusen in itself does not cause visual problems except in some where it causes visual distortion. In later stages it can cause retinal thinning along with atrophy which affects vision.

Wet form of AMD is seen in 10-15% of patients with AMD. This is characterized by growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula which causes accumulation of fluid and blood in the retina thus causing severe vision problems in the form of black spots and loss of central vision. These abnormal blood vessels eventually undergo scarring thus leading to irreversible damage to retina.

Most patients with AMD have the dry form of the disease and will not lose central vision. However, the dry form of AMD can lead to the wet form. People who have the wet form of AMD are much more likely to have serious vision loss. For these patients, early diagnosis and treatment are important to save as much vision as possible.

Because Dry AMD can progress to WET AMD, thus patients with DRY form of disease must monitor their eyesight carefully and visit their ophthalmologists regularly. AMD can also have a genetic predisposition. Patients who have or had family members suffering from AMD should be aware of the higher risk in them of developing the disease. Talk to your eye doctor about your individual risk.