Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
What is macular degeneration?
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of poor vision after age 60. AMD is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula, a small area at the center of the retina in the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving.
The visual symptoms of AMD involve loss of central vision (a dark or empty area), distortion (straight lines look wavy), blurriness (words on a page look blurred).
While peripheral (side) vision is unaffected, one loses the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and looking at detail. AMD alone does not result in total blindness. Even in the more advanced cases, people continue to have some vision.
Although the specific cause is unknown, AMD seems to be part of aging. While age is the most significant risk factor for developing AMD, heredity, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and smoking have also been identified as risk factors. AMD accounts for 90 percent of new legal blindness in the US.