What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)?
ARMD is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the sensitive structure of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eyes to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to recognize faces and color, drive a car, and see objects in fine detail.
In early stages, macular degeneration may not affect your vision. Later in the disease process, people can experience wavy or blurred vision, and, if the condition continues to worsen, central vision may be completely lost. People with very advanced macular degeneration are considered legally blind because their fine central vision is affected.
Two types of ARMD:
- Dry ARMD –affects approximately 80-90% of individuals with ARMD. It tends to progress more slowly than the wet type, and there is no approved cure. This disease presents with small yellowish deposits, called drusen, form on the retina, beneath the macula, causing it to deteriorate or degenerate over time.
- Wet ARMD – Although only 10-20% of all people with AMD have this type, it accounts for 90% of all blindness from this disease. In wet ARMD, abnormal blood vessels under the retina begin to grow toward the macula. Because these new blood vessels are abnormal, they tend to break, bleed, and leak fluid, damaging the macula. This can result in a rapid and severe loss of central vision.
Risks factors for developing ARMD:
- Age – The most common risk factor. The older you are, the greater the chance of developing ARMD
- Gender – More common in women than in men.
- Race – More common in Caucasians than other races, but it exists in every ethnicity.
- Eye Color – More common in people with blue eyes.
- ARMD in One Eye – If you already have ARMD in one eye, your chance of developing it in the other eye is higher.
- Genetics – If others in your family have ARMD, you have a greater risk of developing it.
- Smoking – Smoking increases your risk
What are the symptoms of ARMD?
- Visual distortions, ex. straight lines becoming bent
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- Increased need for brighter light when reading or doing close-up work
- Increased difficulty adapting to low light levels
- Increased blurriness of printed words
- Decreased color perception
- Difficulty recognizing faces or objects
- Total loss of central vision in wet or advanced dry ARMD disease
How can I be tested for ARMD?
Alliance Ophthalmology has the tools necessary to monitor and manage your eyes for macular degeneration. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a medical eye exam, please contact us today at 817-442-2020