Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 65 in the United States. It is a slow, progressive, and painless condition that affects the macula, the small central part of the retina that allows you to see fine detail clearly. Many people develop AMD as part of the aging process. This disease can occur in two different forms known as either Dry AMD or Wet AMD.
The dry form of AMD accounts for ninety percent of all people with AMD. Recent studies suggest that dry AMD is caused by the aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula, a region in the center of the retina that allows people to see straight ahead and distinguish fine details. Usually vision remains functional in this form and profound vision loss is uncommon.
Wet AMD affects ten percent of people with AMD and is a much greater threat to vision. With the wet form of the disease, rapidly growing abnormal blood vessels develop under the central area of the retina. These vessels begin leaking fluid and blood that can cause severe loss of central vision. Laser surgery is a standard treatment for treating these leaky vessels. This treatment is limited to a small number of patients because the heat generated by the high power laser treatment can damage the retina and harm vision itself.