Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition. It’s the disturbance of the macula, the part of the retina that controls how well we can see detail in front of us—as opposed to seeing things in our periphery. AMD is a leading cause of legal blindness in people age 65 and over, and 1.75 million adults in America suffer from its effects.

Two Forms of AMD

Dry Form

Dry macular degeneration is the most common type of AMD. It occurs when yellow deposits called drusen build up in and around the macula and start to break it down. Over time, the drusen will start affecting central vision, causing blurred, speckled, or distorted vision. Over time, dry macular degeneration can also lead to central vision loss.

Wet Form

Wet macular degeneration accounts for only about 10% of those with AMD, but it attacks vision more fiercely than dry macular degeneration does. Blood vessels start to crowd the macula where they shouldn’t be. As these vessels grow, they begin to rapidly damage the macula. Wet macular degeneration can lead to central vision loss in a very short period of time.

What Treatments are there for AMD?

If your eye doctor finds signs of wet macular degeneration, he might suggest laser surgery. This procedure is generally painless and quick. The doctor will use a laser to address the excess blood vessels, and patients are usually able to retain their overall sight with the exception of a small, dark spot from the laser.

Unfortunately, there is currently no FDA-approved cure for dry macular degeneration. Eating healthy, avoiding smoking, exercising consistently, and visiting your VSP eye doctor yearly are the best ways to battle any eye condition, including AMD. Because AMD doesn’t damage peripheral vision, those who have it are usually able to continue their normal activities with the help of low-vision optical devices or other vision aids.

Remember, although treatment of a vision-related illness like AMD is covered under your medical plan, your Vision Service Plan provides for a 100% covered (in-network) exam for routine eye exams once every 12 months.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology