Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common eye disease that causes irreversible vision loss in people over 60. It is caused by the gradual breakdown of the the macula, the central part of the light-sensing tissue located at the back of the eye.
AMD mainly affects central vision used for tasks like reading, driving and recognizing faces. As it does not affect side vision (peripheral vision), AMD does not lead to total blindness. However, the vision loss can be significant in some people.
Take this test to find out if you are at risk. Early identification is key to slowing the progression of the disease to minimize the loss of vision.
Genetic variants in two genes, CFH and ARMS2, are associated with an increased risk of AMD in people of European descent. Those who inherit the CFH variant make a complement factor H protein with reduced activity, while people with the ARMS2 variant make less of the ARMS2 protein. Inheriting at least one of the two variants increases the risk of AMD, and people with two copies of both variants are at the highest risk of developing AMD.
Yellow deposits in the macula, known as drusen, are characteristic of the dry form. Drusen contain waste products generated by the cells in the retina.
When the deposits are small in size, they do not affect vision. However, as they continue to grow, they lead to blurred vision with dim, blurry spots in the middle of the retina.
The first signs of dry AMD are most noticeable when reading. Vision loss worsens over several years and usually affects both eyes. In most cases, patient retain enough vision to read and drive.
Approximately 85% of people with AMD have the dry form.
Wet AMD is characterized by the growth of new abnormal blood vessels under the retina, in a process called choroidal neovascularization (growth of new blood vessels).
These abnormal blood vessels release blood and fluids into the eye, leading to vision distortion and scar formation when untreated.
The initial symptoms of wet AMD include a central blind spot or curving of straight lines. Scarring ultimately leads to a permanent loss of central vision.
The majority (80-90%) of patients with wet AMD will experience serious vision loss.
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