Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects patients over 55 years of age and is a disease associated with genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.
It is a slowly progressive disease that ultimately leads to atrophy and scarring of the macula with permanent, irreversible vision loss.
Symptoms include gradual onset of blurry vision and metamorphopsias, meaning straight lines appear wavy and distorted. Patients with AMD have difficulties particularly in close distances, for example reading and recognizing faces.
AMD is broadly classified into “dry” and “wet” form. Dry AMD includes a wide range of pathology from presence of subtle deposits under the retina, known as drusen, to advanced atrophy and scarring of the macula. Wet AMD is characterized by growth of abnormal vessels under the retina that leak and cause fluid accumulation in the macula which causes vision loss and distortions.
Diagnosis and staging of AMD is done clinically with fundoscopy, OCT and fundus angiography.
No satisfactory treatment for dry AMD has been developed and treatment focuses on prevention. There is evidence that supplements with vitamins and antioxidants slow down disease progression in early and moderate stages. Wet AMD is treated with monthly injections of inhibitors of the vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF).