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Examples of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

back to Age-Related Eye Disease Study


[Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)]

Click on any picture to see a larger image.  Pictures courtesy of the National Eye Institute.  

Normal Vision
A scene as it might be viewed by a person with cataract.
A scene as it might be viewed by a person with age-related macular degeneration.
Amsler grid - normal vision.
Amsler grid as it might appear to someone with age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) 

A common feature of AMD is the presence of drusen, which are yellow deposits under the retina. Often found in people over age 60, drusen can be seen by an eye care professional during an eye exam in which the pupils are dilated. Drusen by themselves do not usually cause vision loss, but an increase in their size and/or number increases a person's risk of developing advanced AMD, which can cause serious vision loss.

The three stages of AMD analyzed in this study are:

  1. Early AMD. People with early AMD have, in one or both eyes, either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen; these people do not have vision loss from AMD.
  2. Intermediate AMD. People with intermediate AMD have, in one or both eyes, either many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen; in these people, there is usually little or no vision loss.
  3. Advanced AMD. In addition to drusen, people with advanced AMD have, in one or both eyes, either:
    • A breakdown of light-sensitive cells and supporting tissue in the central retinal area (advanced dry form); or
    • Abnormal and fragile blood vessels under the retina that can leak fluid or bleed (wet form).

These two forms of advanced AMD can cause serious vision loss. Scientists are unsure about how or why an increase in the size and/or number of drusen can sometimes lead to advanced AMD, which affects the sharp, central vision required for the 'straight ahead' activities in our daily routine, such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces of friends. One observation is that the larger and more numerous the drusen, the higher the risk of developing either form of advanced AMD. People who have advanced AMD in one eye are at especially high risk of developing advanced AMD in the other eye. The formulation used in the study contained several antioxidant vitamins, which are nutrients that can help maintain healthy cells and tissues. They also contained zinc, which is an important mineral incorporated into many body tissues. 

Back to Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).

The National Eye Institute (NEI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the Federal government's lead agency for vision research. NEI-supported research leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. The NIH is an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

This article and the images are  reprinted with permission from the National Eye Institute.

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