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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disorder of the macula, the small, central portion of the retina that processes the sharp, "straight ahead" vision needed for reading, driving a car or recognizing faces. AMD does not cause total blindness because the remaining or undamaged parts of the retina around the macula continue to provide peripheral or "side" vision. AMD is more common in people over 60 and often runs in families.
There are two common types of macular degeneration. The more common "dry" form is associated with the aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. It develops slowly and usually causes mild vision loss. The "wet" form accounts for 20% of AMD cases but poses a greater threat to vision. In these cases, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina where they leak fluid and blood. If severe, this can create a large blind spot in the center of vision, resulting in the loss of all "straight ahead" vision.
Signs and Symptoms
Blurry or fuzzy vision; distortion of straight lines, such as sentences on a page, telephone poles, and sides of buildings; a dark or empty area in the center of vision