Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an inherited disease, which manifests at a mature age. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 50; it affects over two million people in the United States.
The retina is a thin tissue layer covering the back of the eye. When working properly, the cornea and lens focus your vision onto the retina, and the retina "sees" the vision. It then sends the vision to the brain through the optic nerve. The center of the retina has the sharpest vision. This is called the macula.
As we age, the macula may lose part or all of its ability to "see" the vision. The most common problem is AMD. Although AMD is rarely a totally blinding condition, it can be a cause of substantial visual disability.
There are two main subcategories of macular degeneration:
Dry macular degeneration is the initial and more common form of AMD. In its early stages, small deposits in the macula indicate problems with normal daily functions in the macula. Eventually, this problem may lead to thinning of the macula. Patients with mild to moderate dry macular degeneration may have small blind spots in the center of their vision, or “metamorphopsia”, where straight lines may appear wavy. Uncommonly, the thinning may advance to the center of the macula (the very center of the macula is usually the last part to become involved). If the center does become involved, patients may lose their central vision.
In approximately 3-8% of dry AMD patients per year, dry AMD may progress to wet macular degeneration.
Wet AMD is the less common (about 15% of all AMD cases) type of AMD, but it is more significant: it is responsible for about 85% of all vision loss from AMD.
This type of macular degeneration occurs when abnormal, “weak” blood vessels begin to form and grow under the retina in a patient with dry AMD, allowing blood and fluid to leak out, further damaging the macula. This causes even more distortion of vision that makes straight lines appear wavy, and may also cause blind spots in the center of vision. These abnormal vessels eventually scar which leads to permanent loss of central vision for patients.
Our Treatment and Care
Regular exams are the best way to detect the disease, as the progression of macular degeneration is usually slow and noticeable symptoms may not occur until later. We use the most innovative and advanced technology to manage the condition and delay any further vision loss.
SJEYE has the latest technology to diagnose and follow AMD, with new generation optical coherence tomography (OCT) and digital intravenous fluorescein angiography (IVFA).
Most vision loss from AMD is due to the wet form. Those diagnosed with dry AMD are given instructions to use nutritional supplements and optimize cardiovascular health to prevent conversion to the wet form. It is important for patients with dry AMD to be followed to check for "wet" changes.
Once dry AMD changes to the wet form, it’s very important to treat wet AMD as quickly as possible. Dr. Colucciello was the first in South Jersey to perform photodynamic therapy (PDT) and presently uses this modality in some patients in conjunction with intravitreal injections of drugs (which are standard treatment) to treat wet AMD to attempt to improve vision and prevent further vision loss.
How to Get More Information
Early diagnosis can help you keep your vision longer than ever before. All of our ophthalmologists and optometrists examine for AMD changes. When suspicious changes are identified, we will refer you to Dr. Colucciello for further evaluation. Please contact us today for more information or to schedule an evaluation with our skilled and knowledgeable team of vision experts. Request an appointment online or call 1-800-380-0111.