ARMD refers to a degenerative disease that affects the macula and can lead to severe vision impairment. The macula is the central portion of the retina at the back of the eye. It is responsible for both detailed vision, as well as color vision. We use our maculas on a daily basis; to read books, recognize faces, read our emails, thread needles, cook meals etc. The macula is a highly specialized part of the central nervous system. It is densely packed with 2 types of cells; photoreceptors that detect light stimuli and neurons that interpret and transmit these signals to the brain. Needless to say, if our maculas are negatively affected, our daily functioning becomes more difficult.
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration (AMD); dry AMD and wet AMD.
DRY AMD: results in the gradual breakdown of the cells in the macula. This stage is often characterized by single or multiple round, yellow spots called drusen that are easily detected by your eye doctor. These identifying spots often become visible after the age of 30, but are more commonly seen in individuals over the age of 70. In the early stages of this disease, patients often don’t have symptoms. Most patients with AMD start in the dry phase and sometimes convert into the wet phase of AMD.
WET AMD: results from the leaking, bleeding, or scarring of abnormal blood vessels around the macula, resulting in distortion of the central vision. Distorted vision in this type of disease is common to begin in one eye and later affect the second eye. Unlike in dry AMD, vision loss may progress rapidly in the wet AMD and it is important to have regular eye check ups to prevent permanent vision loss.