Dr. Guy Eakin: Hello! I am Dr. Guy Eakin and I'd like to talk about the symptoms of wet and dry age related macular degeneration or AMD.
First, people developing AMD don't feel anything. Macular degeneration is not physically painful and the damage the disease does, distorting, blurring and sometimes destroying the person's central vision, comes without pain or other sensations.
The progression of the symptoms looks something like this. First, in early or dry AMD, the central vision begins to blur the cells in the macula and the centre of the eyes, retina. These cells sicken and cease to function. People see details in front of them a little less clearly.
Sometimes early AMD is hard to detect, because the other eye may still be seeing clearly or bright light disguises the problem. So it's important, and I can't emphasize this enough, to get eye exams regularly.
If a routine test uncovers early stage dry AMD, your doctor can monitor your vision for progression into more advanced forms including the wet form of AMD. That way you can begin treatment as early as possible when treatments may be the most effective.
As the disease progresses, blurring gets worse and covers a larger portion of the field of vision. It may become difficult to distinguish between similar colors and a blind spot can develop as you see here.
Macular cells will begin to die in the very late stages of dry AMD causing large areas of blurring, several blind spots, and in some areas that may appear wavy or distorted. At this point, some patient's condition will change from dry to wet AMD and new blood vessels will begin growing under the retina and cause it to bulge or pucker.
Vision may seem to twist as in a carnival mirror and straight lines may appear wavy or bend. In the later stages of wet AMD, broken blood vessels can cause leaks and leave scarred tissue. This creates the weird blind spots and more distortions.
Wet AMD can get worse much faster than dry AMD. This isn't a happy prospect for those diagnosed with AMD. But not all patients experience all of the same symptoms, and even those who do may have time to adjust, because these changes often happen slowly.
It's important to remember that you can still have a good quality of life. If you're experiencing changes in your vision, see your eye doctor. And even if you're not having problems, be sure to get your eyes examined regularly so your doctor can monitor your vision.
There are several treatments for AMD and ways to make life easier if you or someone you care for has developed macular degeneration. Remember, you are definitely in good company. Millions of people are learning to cope with macular degeneration and there are people and products to help you.
Last Review: 08/29/13