Understanding Macular Degeneration

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,508
    Dr. Stephen Rose discusses an overview of macular degeneration (AMD). Learn about the different forms of AMD and how they affect the eye and, in turn, your vision.

    Stephen Rose: Hello! My name is Dr. Stephen Rose, I'm the Chief Research Officer at the Foundation Fighting Blindness. I'm here to talk to you today about age-related Macular Degeneration, also known as AMD, a serious degenerative eye disease that causes people to lose there central vision.

    As its name implies, this disease typically affects people later in life. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 55. Often people with AMD feel a major loss of independence and miss out on some of the simple joys in life. They can not drive a car, read a book, or even see the faces of there loved ones.

    When it comes to AMD, prevention is the best medicine. There are steps you can take in your day to day life to minimize vision loss from AMD and to decrease your risk for developing the disease in the first place.

    To understand Macular Degeneration, it is first helpful to know how the eye works. Imagine for a moment that the human eye is like the camera. The light comes into the cornea, a clear cover that is like the glass of the camera's aperture. The amount of light coming in is controlled by the pupil, an opening that opens and closes like a camera shutter.

    The light focuses on the retina, a series of light sensitive cells lining the back of the eye. The retina acts like camera film. reacting to the incoming light, and sending a record of it via the optic nerve to the brain. AMD affects these light sensing cells in the retina called the photo receptors, causing them to degenerate and resulting in distorted sectoral vision or loss of central vision totally.

    There are two different forms of Age-related Macular Degeneration; Dry AMD and Wet AMD. Dry AMD is usually the less severe form of the disease and 90% of the patients with AMD have the dry form. When you have Dry AMD, it means there are small, yellowish white deposits developing under the retina. These deposits are called drusen and they are made up of proteins and waste products.

    Now it is possible to have numerous drusen in an eye and still have no more vision. However, as these drusen build up, they can cause a loss of central vision and can lead to the other form, Wet AMD, the more advanced form of the disease.

    Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels grow our of the retina and leak into the vitreous of the eye. These leaky blood vessels can cause severe and rapid vision loss. So while the wet form is less common in the dry form, it has the most devastating effect on vision.

    Age-related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 55. More that 10 million American suffer vision loss from AMD. While the statistics are scary, it's important that you understand the risk factors associated with developing AMD and know that there are steps that you can take to lessen your chances of getting AMD.

    But before we get started, let me take a moment to tell you about myself. I'm the Chief Research Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a non-profit organization that is leading the charge in finding preventions, treatments and cures for retinal diseases. These diseases affect more that 10 million Americans of every age and race. While currently there are no cures available. The foundation is raising money in support of the most promising research initiatives.

    In addition to being the world's largest source of private funding for retinal research, the foundation also provides critical information and support to the millions of Americans who are losing there sight to these diseases. Thanks to the foundation, the future is bright for people with retinal conditions.

    If you'd like to learn know more, visit www.


    org and check out our other videos on Macular Degeneration including risk factors and prevention.