As the leading cause of blindness in American adults age 65 and older, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is expected to affect as many as three million people by the year 2020. AMD occurs when the macula, which is responsible for fine detail and central vision, becomes degenerated with age. Dry vs wet AMD are the two forms of the disease and you should know and understand the difference.
Sometimes causing straight lines to appear wavy in its earliest stages, wet AMD is more advanced than dry and can deteriorate your vision rapidly. Wet AMD is caused by abnormal, fragile blood vessels that grow behind the macula. These vessels are often very fragile and tend to leak blood and fluid, causing the macula to raise and become damaged. All patients who develop wet AMD started with the dry form so it is critical to get regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams including optomap® to detect the disease in its earliest stages to prevent permanent vision loss.
The dry version of AMD has three stages which can affect one or both of your eyes. The three stages are defined by the size and number of fatty yellow protein deposits that form under the retina called “dreusen.” While dreusen are not suspected to be the cause of AMD, their existence increases your risk of developing the condition.
- – Early AMD causes no noticeable symptoms or vision loss. An optomap will show several small dreusen or a few medium-sized ones.
- – Intermediate will show many medium or more than one large dreusen. At this stage, you may notice some blurring in your central vision and some people need more light for reading and other close tasks.
- – Advanced dry AMD not only shows evidence of dreusen, photosensitive cells and other tissues will show degeneration. You may notice a blurred spot in the middle of your vision that increases in size and darkness over a brief period of time and you may have trouble reading and distinguishing faces unless they are very close to you.
At this time there is no treatment for dry or wet AMD. But regular comprehensive eye exams, including optomap, may help to stop or delay the progression of dry and wet AMD. Visit the optomap site to learn more about early eye disease detection.