AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
The retina is a remarkable, delicate sheet of nerve tissue that coats the back of the eye wall and receives signals from light waves. These complex signals of light are transmitted to the brain and interpreted as vision. The retina, then, is like the “film” in the “camera of your eye.” The macula is a small area of the retina responsible for our most precise central vision. The unique properties of the macular portion of the retina allow us to process fine visual details required for tasks like reading a book, recognizing faces, driving, or appreciating leaves on the trees from a distance.
As the eyes age, the macula is increasingly at risk of undergoing some deterioration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a single term used to describe a host of damaging effects that can develop in the aging macula. The degenerative effect of AMD is due to a combination of age, genetics, and environmental factors (such as oxidizing molecules in the environment and toxins like those found in cigarette smoke). Though AMD actually has a host of sub-types, for purposes of explanation AMD can be distinguished as either dry or wet. This distinction also guides options for therapy.