Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD), is a serious eye disease that usually affects adults over 65 years of age. It is associated with vision loss in the center of the visual field (macula) due to damage to the retina. The macular region of the eye is responsible for central vision as well as detailed vision. Individuals who suffer from macular degeneration often experience fuzzy, distorted vision and have difficulty performing detailed tasks. Research suggests that nearly two million people in the United States suffer from AMD. There are two types of macular degeneration that can lead to severe damage of the retina and thus impaired vision.
Dry macular degeneration is often associated with drusen, or yellow deposits located in the back of the eye. The spots are thought to be particles of damaged tissue from the macular region. Dry macular degeneration often leads to thinning of the macular tissue and if left untreated can progress to wet AMD and/or geographic atrophy, which is associated with permanent vision impairment.
Wet macular degeneration is less common but much more severe than dry AMD. Wet AMD occurs when the body, in an attempt to supply more nutrients and oxygen to the eyes, begins to grow new vessels in the retina. This abnormal vessel growth, often associated with leaking blood and fluids, can create scarring and thus severe central vision loss. Approximately 10 percent of individuals who suffer from dry AMD gradually develop wet macular degeneration.
While macular degeneration cannot be cured, there are effective treatments that can help prevent further damage. Laser treatments and certain medications, including Avastin, have been quite effective for patients suffering from AMD. Avastin, known for its cancer-fighting abilities, is a revolutionary drug that paralyzes the growth of abnormal blood vessels. If Avastin is injected into the eye within the first six to 12 months of onset of AMD, patients often see a slowing in the process of the disease. However, like many medications, Avastin is associated with rare yet serious.