Macular Disorders are a range of problems that affect the central portion of the retina, called the macula. The macula is responsible for central or straight-ahead vision. The most common amongst the macular disorders is Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which occurs when the macula degenerates as a result of aging. It is most likely to affect individuals who are 55 years or older. Other causes of AMD could be both hereditary and environmental.
AMD is a painless condition in which the peripheral (side) vision remains normal but the individual loses their central vision. AMD occurs in three stages: early, intermediate, and late. Vision loss is not detected at the early stage, but becomes noticeable as the disease advances.
There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry and Wet AMD.
1. Dry (Atrophic) AMD
Dry AMD occurs when the macula gets thinner in certain parts, followed by the growth of drusen (yellow or white deposits under the retina), which eventually leads to vision loss. Most cases of Macular Degeneration are of the dry type.
There is no cure for dry AMD. Its progress can only be slowed by following a healthy lifestyle.
2. Wet (Exudative) AMD
Although less common, Wet AMD is a more serious eye condition than dry AMD. Wet AMD occurs as a result of abnormal blood vessel growth under the retina, which has the potential to leak. The leakage of blood and other fluids scar the macula, which gradually leads to vision loss.
Since Wet AMD is not detected unless vision becomes blurry, one should visit an ophthalmologist regularly for an early diagnosis. If detected at an early stage, doctors can give injections of anti-angiogenic agents into the eyes to arrest or slow down Wet AMD.