There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration: dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular or exudative.)
In Dry Macular Degeneration, fatty deposits called DRUSEN develop on the macula. Researchers believe that these spots are deposits or debris from deteriorating tissue. Dry AMD might cause severe vision loss, and as many as 15% of dry Macular Degeneration patients will convert to Wet AMD. Currently, there are no approved treatments for Dry AMD, but some studies have shown that vitamins, antioxidants, diet, and smoking cessation might slow its progression. The majority of dry AMD patients have no symptoms, and a series of various tests are need to aid the proper diagnosis.
Wet Macular Degeneration occurs when the oxygen supply to the macula is disrupted and the body responds by growing new, abnormal blood vessels. These newly formed blood vessels begin to grow through the breaks of the membrane behind the retina towards the macula, often lifting the retina. They are usually very fragile, and can leak blood and other fluids beneath the macula. This process can damage the macula and create areas of scarring. This damage to the macula results in rapid central vision loss. The vision loss is usually permanent because abnormal blood vessels and scar tissue are actually destroying normal retinal tissue. Once this vision is destroyed, these light-sensitive cells in the retina cannot be replaced and restored. However, there are several treatment options for wet AMD which can be very effective if applied early enough. If a person has wet AMD in one eye, there is a 40% chance that wet AMD will develop within the patient’s other eye within 5 years. The most important action to preserve vision is to establish a schedule of regular retinal re-evaluation by Dr. Cartwright.
• Family History – People with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk.
• Gender / Race – Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.