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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. It happens when aging causes damage to the macula — the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight-ahead vision. The macula is part of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye).
AMD is a common condition — it’s a leading cause of vision loss for older adults. AMD doesn’t cause complete blindness, but losing your central vision can make it harder to see faces, read, drive, or do close-up work like cooking or fixing things around the house.
AMD happens very slowly in some people and faster in others. If you have early AMD, you may not notice vision loss for a long time. That’s why it’s important to get regular eye exams to find out if you have AMD.
There are 2 types of AMD: dry and wet.
Most people with AMD have dry AMD (also called atrophic AMD). This is when the macula gets thinner with age. Dry AMD happens in 3 stages: early, intermediate, and late. It usually progresses slowly over several years. There’s no treatment for late dry AMD, but you can find ways to make the most of your remaining vision. And if you have late dry AMD in only 1 eye, you can take steps to protect your other eye.
Wet AMD (also called advanced neovascular AMD), is a less common type of late AMD that usually causes faster vision loss. Any stage of dry AMD can turn into wet AMD — but wet AMD is always late stage. It happens when abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye and damage the macula. The good news is that treatment options are available for wet AMD.