The retina is a layer of cells at the back of your eye that's sensitive to light and sends signals to your brain that allow you to see.
The macula is a small area of the retina that has a high concentration of light-sensitive cells. The macula is important for seeing details when you look right at something. For example, your macula helps you read or drive.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that causes the macula to lose its normal structure (called degeneration). When the macula doesn't work properly, you lose the center part of your vision. The center vision is where you see fine details.
There are two types of AMD. First you get:
After you have had dry AMD for a while, you might get:
Doctors don’t know what causes AMD. Certain conditions increase the risk of getting it. Your chances of having AMD are higher if you:
The symptoms of AMD depend on what kind of AMD you have.
In dry AMD, you:
Later, some people with dry AMD may develop wet AMD.
In wet AMD, common symptoms include:
An eye exam usually tells if you have AMD. Doctors check to see if you have vision loss. They'll ask you to look at a grid to see if the lines appear to be straight or wavy.
Doctors may take special pictures of your retina or do tests to look at inner parts of your eye. They can usually see the damage to your eye even before you have symptoms.
If you have mild AMD, you won't be given treatment. But the doctor may give you the following vitamins to keep AMD from getting worse:
Don't take beta-carotene or vitamin A if you have been a smoker for the past 7 years or more because they can raise your chances of getting lung cancer.
If you have severe vision loss from AMD, your doctor may:
Give you shots in the back of your eyes
Use a special light or laser to treat the blood vessels in your eye
Suggest tools that help you read, such as magnifiers, special reading glasses, and other reading devices
Put a mini telescope in your eye, if your vision loss is severe and hasn't improved with other treatments