Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of blindness in older adults over the age of 50. It can be classified as either dry (nonexudative) or wet (exudative ) macular degeneration. Patients can report blurred or distorted vision, in which straight lines appear wavy. Another common complaint is shadows or missing areas of central vision.
Dry or nonexudative macular degeneration is the more common diagnosis. In the dry form, drusen accumulates in the macula (central area of the retina). Advanced AMD can result in atrophy of the macula causing central vision loss. No medical or surgical treatment is available at this time besides vitamin supplementation for certain degrees of severity.
In the wet or exudative form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow and bleed causing decreased vision. Bleeding, leaking and scarring form these blood vessels can result in irreversible loss of vision if untreated. Luckily only 10% of patients suffer from wet AMD. Macular degeneration by itself will not lead to total blindness. Yet, the loss of central vision profoundly affects visual functioning.