What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

The macula is the central most part of the retina, the inner layer at the back of the eye responsible for detailed central vision. It is used for reading, driving and recognizing people’s faces. Macular degeneration is a condition that causes the center of your vision to blur while the side or peripheral vision remains unaffected. It is generally related to the aging process, and is also commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is the leading cause of blindness in North America in adults over the age of 55.

What are the symptoms of AMD?

In the earliest stages, macular degeneration is entirely symptom free but can be detected during routine eye health examinations. The most common initial symptom is slightly blurred central vision when performing tasks that require seeing detail. Glasses cannot correct this blurred spot, or sense there is dirt in the way of clear vision. Over time, the blurred area may increase in size and interfere with reading and recognizing faces. Other symptoms of AMD can cause straight lines to look wavy or distorted, and dark spots may blank out portions of the central vision. Patients experience no pain with AMD.

Are there different forms?

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The most common is the dry form. This is the milder form where there is a gradual degeneration of the central retinal tissues that make up the macula and symptoms generally develop slowly over time. The wet form is a sudden leakage, or bleeding, from weak blood vessels under the macula and symptoms progress rapidly. Wet AMD accounts for approximately 10 per cent of all cases, but the dry form can develop into the wet form over time.