Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of poor vision after age 60. AMD is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula. The macula is a small area at the center of the retina in the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. The visual symptoms of AMD involve loss of central vision. While peripheral (side) vision is unaffected, with AMD, one loses the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and looking at detail. Until recently the only available treatment to seal leaking blood vessels associated with wet AMD was with a laser. The earliest treatment was Laser Photocoagulation. People rarely lose all of their vision from age-related macular degeneration. They may have poor central vision, but they are still able to perform many normal daily activities. The wet form of macular degeneration is a leading cause of irreversible legal blindness. When both eyes are affected, you may lose significant quality of life. The dry form of age-related macular degeneration is much more common and tends to progress more slowly, allowing you to keep most of your vision. To cope with vision loss, you must first have an excellent support team. This team should include you, your primary eye care professional, and an optometrist or ophthalmologist specializing in low vision. Occupational therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, certified low vision therapists, ENT specialists, counselors, and social workers are also available to help. Together, the low vision team can help you make the most of your remaining vision and maintain your independence.
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