Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that slowly destroys sharp, central vision. This makes it difficult to see fine details and read.
The disease is most common in people over age 60, which is why it is often called age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD).
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD); AMD; Vision loss - AMD
The retina is at the back of the eye. It changes light and images that enter the eye into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. A part of the retina called the macula makes vision sharper and more detailed. It is a yellow spot in the center of the retina. It has a high amount of two natural colors (pigments) called lutein and zeaxanthin.
AMD is caused by damage to the blood vessels that supply the macula. This change also harms the macula.
There are two types of AMD:
- Dry AMD occurs when the blood vessels under the macula become thin and brittle. Small yellow deposits, called drusen, form. Almost all people with macular degeneration start with the dry form.
- Wet AMD occurs in about 10% of people with macular degeneration. New abnormal and very fragile blood vessels grow under the macula. These vessels leak blood and fluid. This type of AMD causes most of the vision loss associated with the condition.
Doctors are not sure what causes AMD. The condition is rare before age 55. It occurs most in people 75 years or older.
Risk factors for AMD are:
- Family history of AMD
- Being White
- Cigarette smoking
- High-fat diet
- Being a woman