Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION – is an age-related damage of the central part of the retina – yellow dot, which is commonly accompanied by significant and irreversible loss of central vision. Usually occurs in the individuals aged above 60 years old, however rare cases were also reported in young individuals. Both eye are always affected, however the process can be different.
There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration: dry and exudative.
Dry (non-exudative, atrophic) degeneration is reported more often and is associated with more favourable prognosis. the fine, round-shaped, light yellow foci – drusen occur in the macula, later they merges forming the expanding zone of retinal atrophy develops resulting in disturbed central vision.
Exudative (wet, neovascular) degeneration is more severe and in up to 90 % of cases results in blindness. As the process progresses, newly formed blood vessels occur, which can bleed, causing haemorrhages, leading to the formation of fibrous connective tissue – a scar, which causes irreversible loss of vision.
At the early stage of the disease the patient notices irregular view, line distortion, the objects may look bigger or smaller, later a dart spot occurs ant the centre of the vision field and vision deteriorates gradually. The course of the disease depends on the form and localisation of the injury. Vision sharpness can worsen up to 1.0 or more.
Up to now there is no specific treatment available. The use of certain medicines can help a little. Medicines improving retinal blood circulation and vasodilators are administered. Moreover, the use of antioxidants (Vitamins A, E, C) is especially important. It was reported that antioxidants slow down the ageing processes of the whole body, including the eyes. Carotenoids, that are found in the vegetables with dark leaves (lutein and zeaxanthin) produce positive effect on the retina. The recent studies have demonstrated that sufficient intake of zinc is also very important in reduction of age-related macular degeneration progression. Therefore the use of food supplements containing all these necessary substances is recommended. Prophylactic use of glasses with protective filters preventing ultraviolet radiation of sun is recommended.
A new medical treatment involving vitreous body injections has been recently introduced worldwide to treat exudative forms. It has been suggested that this is a promising treatment method and new more effective medicines are under the development.