What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also known as AMD and ARMD (for Age Related Macular Degeneration), is an eye disease that is a leading cause of visual loss in older adults.  Macular degeneration is likely related to a variety of factors including genetic predisposition and inflammation, but the exact cause of this disease is unknown. AMD causes damage to the central portion of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for the sharp and direct vision needed for activities such as driving, reading, or recognizing fine details. This disease is commonly related to aging and is most common in patients over 65 years old.

macular degeneration

Types of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is often grouped into two categories and these are the dry and wet types of macular degeneration. The dry form is more common and can include loss of retinal pigment and deposit of material in the tissues underlying the macula. These changes can lead to distorted or decreased vision. As the disease progresses, changes in the blood vessels underlying the retina can cause bleeding or leaking, which is the “wet” component of wet macular degeneration.  Wet macular degeneration is less common in patients but can have serious affects on the eyes such as central vision loss.


There are no treatments for the dry form of AMD, but it is important to monitor your vision because AMD can occur without any symptoms.  You can use an Amsler grid on an ongoing basis and this is encouraged to detect early progression to the wet form of macular degeneration.  Doctor’s may have patients begin vitamin supplements and new diets containing green, leafy vegetables and fish oils to help treat the dry form of AMD.

Today’s treatment for the wet form of macular degeneration that is most commonly used is Avastin and Lucentis. These two different medications are injected into the eye and both medicines act by blocking a hormone that contributes to vascular leakage. By blocking the hormone, the eye has a chance of drying the macular area and allowing improved vision.