One of the most common early signs of AMD is the presence of drusen.
Drusen are tiny yellow deposits in the retina. Your eye care professional
can see them during an eye examination. The presence of drusen
alone does not necessarily indicate a disease, but it might mean
eye is at risk for developing more severe AMD.
While conducting the eye examination, your eye care professional my
ask you to look at an Amsler grid. This grid is a pattern that resembles
a checkerboard. You will be asked to cover one eye and stare at a black
dot in the center of the grid. While staring at the dot, you may notice
that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy to you. You may
notice that some of the lines are missing. These may be signs of wet
If your eye care professional suspects you have wet AMD, you may need
to have a test called fluorescein angiography. In this test, a special
dye is injected into a vein in your arm. Pictures are then taken as
the dye passes through the blood vessels in the retina. The photo help
your eye care professional locate and evaluate leaking blood vessels
to determine whether they can be treated.
How is AMD treated?
Dry AMD currently can not be treated. But this does not mean that
you will lose your sight. Fortunately, dry AMD develops very
You may lose some of your central vision over the years. However,
most people are able to lead normal, active lives–especially
if AMD affects only one eye.
Some cases of wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery. The treatment
involves aiming a high-energy beam of light directly onto the leaking
blood vessels. Laser treatment is more effective if the leaky blood
vessels have developed away from the fovea–the central part
of the macula. But even if the blood vessels are growing right behind
the fovea, the treatment can be of some value in stopping further
How is laser surgery performed?
Laser surgery is performed on site at Tri-County Eye Clinic. Before
the surgery, your eye care professional will: (1) dilate your pupil
and (2) apply drops to numb the eye. In some cases, we also may numb
the area behind the eye to prevent any discomfort.
The lights in the office will be dim. As you sit facing the laser
machine, your eye care professional will hold a special lens to your
eye. You may see flashes of light. You can leave the office once the
treatment is done, but you will need someone to drive you home. Because
your pupils are dilated, you should also bring a pair of sunglasses.
You will need to make frequent follow-up visits to make sure the blood
vessels are not still leaking, or that new blood vessels have not developed.
It is important to realize that laser surgery is not a cure for AMD.
It is only a treatment to help stop further vision loss. The risk of
new blood vessels growing back after laser treatment is relatively
What can you do to protect your vision?
Dry AMD. If you have dry AMD, you should have your eyes examined through
dilated pupils at least once a year. This will allow your eye care
professional to monitor your condition and check for other eye diseases
Wet AMD. If you have wet AMD, it is important not to delay laser surgery
if your eye care professional advises you to have it. After surgery,
you will need to have frequent eye examinations to detect any recurrence
of leaking blood vessels. Studies show that people who smoke have a
greater risk of recurrence than those who don't.
What can you do if you have already lost vision to AMD?
Normal use of your eyes will not cause further damage to your vision.
Even if you have lost sight to AMD, you should not be afraid to use
your eyes for reading, watching TV, and other usual activities.
Low vision aids are also available to help you make the most of your
remaining vision. Low vision aids are special lenses or electronic
systems that make images appear larger. If you need low vision aids,
click here to see low vision aids available from Tri-County Eye Clinic.