4.1.1A view of two children as seen by persons with normal vision

4.1.1The same view as seen by persons with macular degeneration

AMD attacks the macula, which is the part of the retina that delivers sharp, central vision.

People with the disease develop blurred vision and can’t see objects directly in front of them.  That central blind spot increases in size as AMD progresses.

There are two types of AMD, dry and wet.

Most people with AMD have the dry version, caused by a breakdown or thinning of the retina, and have difficulty reading print or distinguishing faces.

Sometimes dry AMD progresses into the more serious wet form, the most common cause of severe vision loss.  The wet form develops when abnormal blood vessels grow in the layer of cells directly beneath the retina.   Scarring in the macula, leading to a progressive blind spot at the center of the visual field, occurs when the blood vessels leak.

Your vision care provider can use an ophthalmoscope to detect AMD before its vision-threatening symptoms appear and also to detect cataract or glaucoma.

The sooner AMD is found, the more likely it can be successfully treated, making routine eye exams and early detection as important as are other medical tests for diseases.

Source:  Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, December 27, 2012

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