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AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the US today, affecting approximately 10 million people. The dry or atrophic form accounts for 85-90% of cases and is characterized by slow decline of central vision function over many years. The wet or exudative form accounts for about 10% of cases and can lead to rapid and irreversible central vision loss. Since 2005, intraocular (intravitreal) therapy with injectable “anti-VEGF” drugs has revolutionized care of the wet form. New treatments for both forms of AMD are in development, with Colorado Retina taking part in over 30 promising clinical trials.

Age related macular degeneration
TYPES - WET VS DRY AMD
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DRY AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
About 80-90% of people who have age-related macular degeneration have the dry form. Dry AMD is characterized by the central part of the retina, the macula, becoming thinner with age. Tiny clumps of debris called drusen also accumulate underneath the retina. There may also be patches of cell loss called geographic atrophy, which lead to gaps in the central vision. To date, there is no method to treat dry AMD and Colorado Retina is and has been involved with numerous research trials to find a treatment or cure.

WET AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Wet age-related macular degeneration (Wet AMD) is less common but can be much more serious. Wet AMD is characterized by new, abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or serum, ultimately leading to damage and scarring of the macula. Patients may lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD. With early diagnosis and intervention, however, patients can experience visual improvement and maintenance of vision for years with treatment.

RISK FACTORS
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You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

  • eat a diet high in saturated fat

  • are overweight

  • smoke cigarettes

  • are over 50 years old

  • have hypertension, high cholesterol or heart disease

  • have a family history of AMD

TREATMENT
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Dry AMD treatment
Right now, there is no way to treat the dry form of AMD. However, two large studies (Age-Related Eye Disease Studies) found that people may slow their dry AMD by taking these vitamins and minerals daily:

  • Vitamin C (500 mg)

  • Vitamin E (400 IU)

  • Lutein (10 mg)

  • Zeaxanthin (2 mg)

  • Zinc (80 mg)

  • Copper (2 mg)

Colorado Retina is and has been involved with numerous research trials to find a treatment or cure.

Wet AMD treatment
To help treat wet AMD, there are medications called anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs. Anti-VEGF treatment helps to reduce the leakage from abnormal blood vessels in your retina. These medicines, Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea, are delivered to your anesthetized eye through a small needle into the vitreous cavity.

Laser surgery may also be used to treat some types of wet AMD. Your eye surgeon shines a laser light beam on the abnormal blood vessels. This reduces the number of vessels and slows their leaking.

TESTING & DIAGNOSIS
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In addition to visual acuity measurement, your central visual field may be examined with an Amsler grid test.

You will have dilation drops placed in your eye. This allows an examination of your retina through special lenses.

You may have a test called fluorescein angiography to better characterize disease activity and confirm the diagnosis. Fluorescein is an organic yellow dye that is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. A special camera takes photos of the retina as the dye travels throughout its blood vessels. This shows where abnormal new blood vessels are growing under the retina.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is another way to look closely at the retina. A scanning laser images the retina and provides a very detailed look at the macula.

WATCH VIDEO
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