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Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common eye conditions is the United States, with millions of cases a year. As common as this condition is, there is not much awareness surrounding it, and most do not know much about the condition.


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What is AMD?

AMD is a common eye condition that affects the macula, and is one leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 or over. This disease causes damage to the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, called the macula.

In some people, AMD advances very slowly, and vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, the most common symptom is a blurred area near the center of vision. Over time, this blurred spot grows larger, and blank spots may appear, affecting daily activities that require central vision.

AMD does not lead to complete blindness, but the loss of central vision can be debilitating for some. It can affect every day activities such as cooking, driving, reading, writing, or fixing things around the house.

The Macula

The macula is a small area located on the retina, made up of minions of light-sensing cells that allow you to have sharp central vision. This is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is located on the back interior of the eye. The retina turns light into electrical signals and then sends these electrical signals to the brain through the optic nerve. The brain then translates these signals into the images we see. When the macula is damaged, your vision becomes blurry, dark or distorted.

What are the Stages of AMD?

Macular DegenerationThere are three stages associated with AMD. These stages are defined in part by the number of drusen under the retina. It is possible to have AMD in only one eye, or to have different stages in each eye. These different stages can only be detected during an eye exam, and those most at risk for AMD should have a yearly exam.

  1. Early AMD. This stage is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen (yellow spots beneath the retina), which are about the width of an average human hair. People with early AMD typically do not have vision loss.
  2. Intermediate AMD. During this stage, there will be large drusen, and/or pigment changes under the retina. This stage may cause some vision loss, but most do not experience symptoms.
  3. Late AMD. In addition to drusen, people with late AMD will have vision loss due to damage of the macula. There are two types of late AMD:
    1. Dry AMD, which causes a gradual breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula that convey visual information to the brain and of the supporting tissue beneath the macula. These changes cause vision loss.
    2. Wet AMD, which causes abnormal blood cells to grow underneath the retina. These vessels are fragile, and leak fluid, which leads to swelling and damage to the macula. This stage can occur rapidly, unlike the more gradual dry AMD.

It is important to have regular eye exams, so that AMD is caught in its earlier stages. Not everyone with early AMD will develop late AMD. If you only have AMD in one eye, you may not notice any changes in your overall vision. However, having late AMD in one eye means that you are at increased risk of developing late AMD in your other eye. Any changes that you notice in your vision, even if it is small and doesn't affect daily life, should be brought to the attention of your eye care professional.

How is AMD Treated?

For early AMD, there is currently no treatment. Regular eye exams are recommended to track the progression of AMD, and adopting some healthy lifestyle habits may help to slow progression. Healthy eating, regular exercise and avoiding smoking may be helpful.

For treatment of intermediate AMD, there is a supplement regimen in trials that may prove helpful for patients. Ask your eye doctor about this treatment, and make sure to alert them your lifestyle habits, such as smoking. Some supplements should be avoided by those who smoke.

Advanced AMD often results in severe vision loss, but therapeutic measures can be taken to stop further vision loss. These therapies can not cure AMD, only slow its progression. Anti-VGEF injections, photo dynamic therapy, and laser surgery have all been shown to stop further vision loss.

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Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common eye conditions is the United States, with millions of cases a year. As common as this condition is, there is not much awareness surrounding it, and most do not know much about the condition.


View Video


What is AMD?

AMD is a common eye condition that affects the macula, and is one leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 or over. This disease causes damage to the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, called the macula.

In some people, AMD advances very slowly, and vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, the most common symptom is a blurred area near the center of vision. Over time, this blurred spot grows larger, and blank spots may appear, affecting daily activities that require central vision.

AMD does not lead to complete blindness, but the loss of central vision can be debilitating for some. It can affect every day activities such as cooking, driving, reading, writing, or fixing things around the house.

The Macula

The macula is a small area located on the retina, made up of minions of light-sensing cells that allow you to have sharp central vision. This is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is located on the back interior of the eye. The retina turns light into electrical signals and then sends these electrical signals to the brain through the optic nerve. The brain then translates these signals into the images we see. When the macula is damaged, your vision becomes blurry, dark or distorted.

What are the Stages of AMD?

Macular DegenerationThere are three stages associated with AMD. These stages are defined in part by the number of drusen under the retina. It is possible to have AMD in only one eye, or to have different stages in each eye. These different stages can only be detected during an eye exam, and those most at risk for AMD should have a yearly exam.

  1. Early AMD. This stage is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen (yellow spots beneath the retina), which are about the width of an average human hair. People with early AMD typically do not have vision loss.
  2. Intermediate AMD. During this stage, there will be large drusen, and/or pigment changes under the retina. This stage may cause some vision loss, but most do not experience symptoms.
  3. Late AMD. In addition to drusen, people with late AMD will have vision loss due to damage of the macula. There are two types of late AMD:
    1. Dry AMD, which causes a gradual breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula that convey visual information to the brain and of the supporting tissue beneath the macula. These changes cause vision loss.
    2. Wet AMD, which causes abnormal blood cells to grow underneath the retina. These vessels are fragile, and leak fluid, which leads to swelling and damage to the macula. This stage can occur rapidly, unlike the more gradual dry AMD.

It is important to have regular eye exams, so that AMD is caught in its earlier stages. Not everyone with early AMD will develop late AMD. If you only have AMD in one eye, you may not notice any changes in your overall vision. However, having late AMD in one eye means that you are at increased risk of developing late AMD in your other eye. Any changes that you notice in your vision, even if it is small and doesn't affect daily life, should be brought to the attention of your eye care professional.

How is AMD Treated?

For early AMD, there is currently no treatment. Regular eye exams are recommended to track the progression of AMD, and adopting some healthy lifestyle habits may help to slow progression. Healthy eating, regular exercise and avoiding smoking may be helpful.

For treatment of intermediate AMD, there is a supplement regimen in trials that may prove helpful for patients. Ask your eye doctor about this treatment, and make sure to alert them your lifestyle habits, such as smoking. Some supplements should be avoided by those who smoke.

Advanced AMD often results in severe vision loss, but therapeutic measures can be taken to stop further vision loss. These therapies can not cure AMD, only slow its progression. Anti-VGEF injections, photo dynamic therapy, and laser surgery have all been shown to stop further vision loss.

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The Greater New Bedford Surgical and Laser Center was opened in 1986 with the express purpose of rendering high quality, state of the art eye surgery to patients of all ages, especially those with cataracts, glaucoma, or cornea disease. The Center is designed specifically with the needs of the patient in mind. The entire process from initial examination to final outcome is conducted in a pleasant comfortable environment.

After a patient decides to have surgery, he or she is assigned his or her own Surgical Counselor who is available to answer questions and provide assistance. These individuals are specially trained to assist the patient throughout the entire surgical experience, including follow up care for as long as necessary. Patients are encouraged to contact their counselor for any questions, no matter how simple or complex.

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