Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of poor vision in patients after the age of 60. Although the specific cause is unknown, AMD seems to be a part of aging. Heredity, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and smoking are risk factors. AMD accounts for 90 percent of new legal blindness in the US. Visual symptoms of AMD involve loss of central vision, but the peripheral vision is unaffected. Patients can lose the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading and recognizing faces when parts of the image are missing.
Two categories of AMD are wet and dry. Nine out of 10 people who have AMD have the dry form, which results in thinning of the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision. Dry AMD takes many years to develop. In some cases, anti-oxidant treatment may be beneficial.
Wet macular degeneration occurs much less frequently (one out of 10 people) but is more serious. Currently, there are many treatments available, including laser photocoagulation, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medications. Anti-VEGF therapy, including Lucentis and Macugen, is the newest treatment for macular degeneration.