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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degeneration of the retina and choroidea (choroid) that results in a significant decrease in visual acuity.
In developed countries, AMD is the leading cause of significant vision loss in people over 50.
Early AMD may be asymptomatic. But as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may appear:
At an advanced stage:
The exact cause of AMD is unknown, but the conditions for its development are changes that accompany age.
There are two main types of AMD:
The early stage of the dry form of AMD is manifested by the appearance of light yellow druses that form under the retina. Drusen are usually harmless, but when they merge, dry AMD can progress and lead to atrophic changes.
The atrophic area of the retina can also spread. If it is extensive and has clear margins, then it is called geographic atrophy (GA).
GA is the main type of dry AMD, which is often associated with loss of central vision.
What happens with a wet form of AMD:
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is a hallmark of wet AMD.
CNV is formed when pathological vessels grow under the retina. They can bleed or leak, leading to deformation of the retinal structure.
Ultimately, CNV can develop into a disc-shaped scar that replaces the normal tissue of the outer retina and leads to a permanent decrease in central vision.
Risk factors for AMD
AMD is more likely to develop in women than in men, and predominantly in Caucasians.
Diagnosis of AMD patients begins with an examination of the fundus behind a slit lamp. Additional diagnostic methods are used to confirm the diagnosis:
Treatment and prognosis
Following the discovery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by scientists, progress has been made in the treatment of wet AMD in recent years. VEGF regulates the growth of pathological neoplasms of the eye, known as neovascularization, which can lead to wet AMD.
Anti-VEGF drugs have been discovered to block neovascularization and preserve vision in AMD patients. Two anti-VEGF drugs are officially registered in Russia:
The wet form of AMD cannot be completely cured, but its progression can be stopped — with the help of intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF drugs.
There are three anti-VEGF treatment regimens for wet AMD:
Anti-VEGF therapy has significantly improved the treatment of wet AMD. Since 2005, patients with wet AMD are much more likely to maintain central vision, an ability for reading, driving; they recognize people’s faces and live normal lives.
The AREDS Association (Age-Related Eye Disease Studies), together with the National Eye Institute, have developed a dietary supplement formula that prevents the development of dry AMD.
AREDS supplement is widely available and contains a daily requirement of ingredients:
Although patients with macular degeneration suffer from a pronounced deterioration in visual acuity, they cannot completely go blind — peripheral vision is preserved.
The disease can be detected using OCT (optical coherence tomography).
The Foundation launched the School of Health project, which aims to prevent eye diseases in humans. At regular free events of the project, doctors of various clinics talk about what diseases lead to visual impairment and how to prevent them.
Each listener receives a referral for free OCT examination of the posterior segment of the eye.