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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that damages the macular region, the central retinal area responsible for the ability to see clearly, read, sew, and drive a car.
It is important to know that with AMD a person is not worried about pain, redness of the eyes. The disease is outwardly asymptomatic. At the same time, the cell death gradually occurs in the macula. In some people, age-related macular degeneration progresses so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a very long time. In others, the disease progresses more rapidly and can lead to loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Age-related macular degeneration does not by itself lead to complete blindness. However, loss of central vision in age-related macular degeneration can interfere with simple daily activities.
Age-related macular degeneration has a complex mechanism of development. At the same time, the pathogenesis of dystrophic processes is not fully understood. Obviously, under the influence of unfavourable factors, the macular tissue undergoes irreversible damage.
At risk are patients with vascular diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis. In addition, the pathology develops in people who smoke, as well as those who are obese. Insufficient nutrition of the eye tissues caused by blockage of the vascular bed leads to the development of age-related macular degeneration. The pathogenesis of the disease is based on a violation of the redox balance. Free radicals are dominant in this process. These substances are formed in the macula for the following reasons: continuous exposure of the yellow spot (this is another name for the macula) to oxygen and light; accumulation of fatty acids prone to oxidation. Also, an obvious factor in the pathogenesis (the development of pathology) is the origin of the retina, since this membrane of the eye is considered a peripheral analyzer and is directly connected with the brain, as a result of which it is highly sensitive to “oxygen starvation”. These factors contribute to the gradual thinning of the macular tissue. Under the influence of radicals, cell membranes are destroyed and the retina becomes more sensitive to light, and under the influence of infrared and ultraviolet radiation, AMD develops even faster. The noted negative processes lead to the loss of the receptors of the macular pigment epithelium, which undergoes atrophy. At the final stage, scars appear and loss of central vision develops.
Types of AMD.
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Dry macular degeneration develops gradually, significantly limiting the ability of patients to recognize small details. To date, no effective treatment methods have been developed. The dry form accounts for 85 to 90 percent of cases. With it, in the macular area there are deposits, yellowish spots — drusen. This form of the disease is not as severe as wet.
Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular AMD, occurs as a result of newly formed blood vessels under the macula. Wet AMD is the most serious form and can lead to vision loss. If symptoms appear, immediate treatment is necessary.
The appropriate treatment is selected depending on the form of the disease. Early diagnosis, timely treatment and adherence to medical recommendations will help prevent the development of dangerous complications and restore vision.
This publication has been prepared with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund