Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration - Park Avenue Laser Vision - Eye Institute - Dr. Robert Ditkoff-New York Astoria

What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a breakdown of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for the central vision we need for “straight ahead” activities such as driving, reading, recognizing faces, and performing close-up work. It generally affects those age 50 and older. In fact, the disease is often referred to as “age-related macular degeneration” (ARMD). While scientists are uncertain of its cause, ARMD destroys cells in the area of the macula in two different forms, “dry” and “wet.” Dry ARMD can advance so slowly that people hardly notice it, or it can rapidly progress to the “wet” type with vision loss in one or both eyes.

“Dry” macular degeneration
The most typical form of ARMD, “dry” macular degeneration accounts for approximately 90 percent of cases diagnosed. Research suggests that the “dry” form may be the result of acceleration in the normal aging process of several different types of cells in the eye’s retina. The matter left behind by these deteriorating cells blocks nutrition that is needed in the eye. Over time, the retinal tissue can waste away, causing spotty vision or even a moth-eaten appearance that leads to progressive visual loss.

“Wet” macular degeneration
The less common “wet” form of ARMD is the more aggressive of the two types. In “wet” ARMD, new blood vessels may form underneath the retina and cause the macula to malfunction. This can quickly destroy vision. In the beginning stages, straight lines appear wavy and fine details fade. It becomes hard to focus on just one word and faces start to blur. People gradually lose the ability to read or drive and often progress to legal blindness within two years. Wet ARMD occurs in only 10 percent of all cases, but it is responsible for 90 percent of decreased vision resulting from ARMD.

What can I do?
If you have a family history of AMD or are over age 59, you should schedule an examination with Dr. Ditkoff.

Amsler Grid
Below is a simple screening test you can use at home. This Amsler Grid can help patients to detect early signs of macular degeneration or monitor any further deterioration. Holding the grid at arm’s length, stare at the center dot. Are any of the lines crooked, bent, wavy, or missing? If they are, please call our office for prompt attention. This test does not replace a professional exam. Click here to launch the Amsler Grid.