Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) occurs when the cells in the macula break down, causing loss of sight in the central part of the field of vision. ARMD is a usually a slow, painless disease which often affects both eyes. Once you are diagnosed with ARMD many years may pass before you have any noticeable loss of vision.
The symptoms of ARMD are decreased central vision, a possible distortion which is characterized by straight lines acquiring a bent or irregular shape. Occasionally, bleeding complications or other changes associated with ARMD may result in the appearance of a dark spot in the center vision area directly or next to the center vision area.
There are Two Main Types of Macular Degeneration:
‘Dry’ ARMD (Atrophic), which accounts for 90% of cases, occurs when small yellowish deposits accumulate beneath the macula. These deposits gradually break down the light-sensing cells in the macula, normally causing distorted vision in one eye, then the other. Dry ARMD does not usually cause total loss of reading vision. It is important to monitor the progression of dry ARMD closely, as it can often progress to the more severe wet form.
‘Wet’ ARMD (Exudative) accounts for the other 10% of ARMD cases. It occurs when tiny, new, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the retina. Here, they often leak blood and fluid that damage the macula, causing rapid and severe vision loss. Wet ARMD almost always occurs in people who already have dry ARMD, and results in legal blindness.
Recently, several injectable medications, including Lucentis, Eylea and Avastin have been developed to lessen the effects of ARMD. It is imperative to wear sunglasses (100% UVA/B), not smoke, take antioxidant vitamins, and get regular eye exams to reduce your risk of ARMD. If you, or a family member, have concerns about ARMD, call us at 502-589-1500 to schedule an appointment.