Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Treating your vision loss so you can best maintain your lifestyle

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) typically causes a blurred area in the center of your vision. It’s a common cause of vision loss in people over age 60. If you have it, you’re not alone. IU Health physicians will work with you to slow or halt its progress so that you can maintain your vision and lifestyle.

The macula is an area near the center of your retina (light-sensitive area at the back of the eye). It’s important for central vision and activities such as reading, driving and fixing things.

In age-related macular degeneration, the macula in one or both eyes becomes damaged. Over time, you might develop blank or dark spots in your central vision, even though your peripheral (side) vision is good. Besides aging, risk factors include family history, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and smoking.

In the early stages of age-related macular degeneration, you may not even have vision loss or other symptoms.

Types of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration has two types:

  • Dry age-related macular degeneration. In this version of the disease, the macula breaks down and becomes thin. Ninety percent of people with age-related macular degeneration have this type. Fortunately, dry age-related macular degeneration typically progresses slowly, and you may never develop severe vision loss. Although there is no treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration, vitamin therapy and a healthy lifestyle may prevent it from becoming worse.
  • Wet age-related macular degeneration. In this condition, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. They can leak blood and other fluid, damaging the macula and causing vision loss over just a few months. For wet age-related macular degeneration, our specialists provide leading edge medicine and treatment options available first and often only at Indiana University Health. As part of the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute is a hub of eye health research. Our faculty members are studying a variety of approaches for more effective treatment of age-related macular degeneration and many other eye conditions.

Overview

The macula is an area near the center of your retina (light-sensitive area at the back of the eye). It’s important for central vision and activities such as reading, driving and fixing things.

In age-related macular degeneration, the macula in one or both eyes becomes damaged. Over time, you might develop blank or dark spots in your central vision, even though your peripheral (side) vision is good. Besides aging, risk factors include family history, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and smoking.

In the early stages of age-related macular degeneration, you may not even have vision loss or other symptoms.

Types of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration has two types:

  • Dry age-related macular degeneration. In this version of the disease, the macula breaks down and becomes thin. Ninety percent of people with age-related macular degeneration have this type. Fortunately, dry age-related macular degeneration typically progresses slowly, and you may never develop severe vision loss. Although there is no treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration, vitamin therapy and a healthy lifestyle may prevent it from becoming worse.
  • Wet age-related macular degeneration. In this condition, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. They can leak blood and other fluid, damaging the macula and causing vision loss over just a few months. For wet age-related macular degeneration, our specialists provide leading edge medicine and treatment options available first and often only at Indiana University Health. As part of the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute is a hub of eye health research. Our faculty members are studying a variety of approaches for more effective treatment of age-related macular degeneration and many other eye conditions.

Our physicians suggest regular comprehensive dilated eye examinations to catch signs of disease advancement. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose from several options available to limit abnormal blood vessel growth that damages the macula including:

  • Vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements
  • Medicines
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Laser surgery

IU Health also provides clinical research studies for patients who want to take advantage of the newest scientific treatments available.

Treatment

Our physicians suggest regular comprehensive dilated eye examinations to catch signs of disease advancement. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose from several options available to limit abnormal blood vessel growth that damages the macula including:

  • Vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements
  • Medicines
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Laser surgery

IU Health also provides clinical research studies for patients who want to take advantage of the newest scientific treatments available.

Patient Stories for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute

As part of the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Glick Eye Institute offers patient fact sheets on age-related macular degeneration and other conditions.

National Eye Institute

This agency of the U.S. National Institutes of Health conducts and supports vision research. The website offers fact sheets on age-related macular degeneration and many other eye health topics.

Resources

Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute

As part of the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Glick Eye Institute offers patient fact sheets on age-related macular degeneration and other conditions.

National Eye Institute

This agency of the U.S. National Institutes of Health conducts and supports vision research. The website offers fact sheets on age-related macular degeneration and many other eye health topics.