Dry Macular Degeneration, also known as dry AMD, is an eye disease that affects many adults over age 60. It is the most common eye disease among older adults. Dry AMD is caused by atrophy to the retinal pigment epithelial layer below the retina.
This results in vision loss in the central vision due to the loss of photoreceptors in the eye. Dry macular degeneration causes gradual deterioration of the macula, which is in the center of the retina on the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of a person’s eyeball.
Dry macular degeneration can cause blurry vision and a blind spot in the center field of vision. It does not cause total blindness. However, the condition can adversely impact a person’s life, affecting their ability to read, drive, write, use a computer, watch television, or easily identify faces. It does not have much of an impact on a person’s peripheral vision.
The presence of yellow deposits called drusen in the macula indicate a patient has dry macular degeneration. The disease starts out painless and progresses gradually. As the drusen grown in size and increase in number, they can cause dimming or distortion to the person’s vision field.
Dry Macular Denegeration Stages
There are three defined stages of dry macular degeneration. In the early stage, patients have several small or a few medium–sized drusen. There is no vision loss or symptoms at this stage. In the intermediate stage, the afflicted person may have many medium–sized or a few large–sized drusen.
In the advanced stage, the afflicted person has a large number of drusen depositions and significant damage to the retina. There is a thinning of the layer of cells in the macula leading to atrophy or tissue death. In this stage, a large blurry spot occurs in the center of the visual field. The spot can become larger and darker over time causing a complete loss of central vision.
Do Not Take It Lightly
Dry AMD is much less serious than the other form AMD – wet macular degeneration. However, dry AMD can lead to the “wet” form of the disease. About 85% of people with age–related macular degeneration have the “dry” form of the disease but nearly everyone who gets AMD starts out having dry AMD.
The National Eye Institute has suggested taking vitamin supplements with high doses of antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin for the condition. Vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc and copper have also been recommended to slow the progression of dry macular degeneration and in some cases, improve visual acuity.