Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and legal blindness in individuals over the age of 65. The disease affects a part of the eye called the macula, which is the most important part of the retina, found in the back of the eye. The macula is responsible for normal, “straight-ahead” detailed vision and makes it possible to see well enough to perform everyday tasks such as reading, watching television, recognizing faces and colors, seeing objects in detail, and safely walking up the stairs.
When a person develops AMD, light-sensing cells in the central area of vision – the macula – are damaged and stop sending images to the brain. If the disease progresses, a larger area of the macular will be damaged, resulting in a “blind spot” in central vision. Peripheral vision remains intact, but this blurry, side vision is not enough to compensate for the loss of central vision. There is no cure for AMD.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older, and the number one cause of blindness in people age 65 years and older.1, 2
Globally, a systematic review in The Lancet found that 8.7 percent of the worldwide population has age-related macular degeneration. While the projected number of people with the disease was around 196 million in 2020, the study projected an increase to 288 million in 2040. In addition, researchers found that macular degeneration is more prevalent in people of European ancestry, with Europe only second to Asia in overall prevalence in the number of projected cases (69 million) by 2040.3
More than 15 million Americans are affected by some form of macular degeneration and approximately 2 million Americans have advanced forms of AMD with associated vision loss.
Late-Stage AMD is the most advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It results in a loss of central vision, or blind spot, that is uncorrectable by glasses, drugs, injections, or cataract surgery1.
Yes, there are. Age-related macular degeneration is usually described as either “dry” or “wet.” Of these two types, “dry” AMD is the most common. This type of AMD may also be referred to as “non-neovascular.” Small deposits that develop under the retina can expand and cause the cells of the retina to malfunction. The progression of “dry” AMD is usually slow. “Wet” AMD occurs when very small blood vessels develop below and into the retina. This type of AMD may also be referred to as “neovascular.” These very small blood vessels can burst or leak resulting in damage to the retina and vision loss. Wet AMD usually develops quickly and with greater vision loss than dry AMD.
Late-Stage AMD is the most advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and can be caused by either wet or dry AMD. It results in a loss of central vision, or blind spot, that is uncorrectable by glasses, drugs, injections, or cataract surgery1.
In late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the macula degenerates in both eyes without any healthy macular areas left for detailed central vision. For the patient, there is no way to see around the central blind spot in their vision. In earlier or milder forms of AMD, visual symptoms may be minor and not necessarily impact the individual’s ability to easily perform daily activities. Also, in less advanced forms of AMD, one eye may still have central vision or, in the case of wet AMD, drug treatments may help stabilize vision or offer some improvement.
For patients with late-stage AMD, the world has literally disappeared before their eyes. They have lost the ability to see and do many of the things they love, like being able to recognize the faces and facial expressions of friends and relatives, watch TV, cook, enjoy hobbies like gardening, cards, or knitting, and read.
While treatments exist to try to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and there are assistive devices that can help people with reduced vision see better with magnification or more light, many patients will progress in their disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for late-stage AMD2. At this most advanced stage of the disease, the macula itself is beyond repair. But for people living with late-stage AMD, the SING IMT™ is a treatment option that may help to improve their vision and quality of life. Samsara Vision provides physician and patient support as patients work with a team of health care professionals, including a retina specialist, corneal surgeon, occupational therapist and low vision specialist, to determine if they are candidates for the device, which is proven to improve vision and quality of life by varying levels in the majority of qualified patients who have late-stage AMD 4,5,6.
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Cataracts are common in patients over sixty and also affect vision. Though cataracts can develop from other causes, the majority are part of the aging process. Cataracts occur when the natural lens in the eye becomes progressively cloudy as patients age. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes. When cataracts progress enough they are usually removed and replaced with an implanted intraocular lens, IOL.
Many age-related macular degeneration patients have developed cataracts as well. Cataract removal surgery is common and may give some help to patients with AMD because it increases light, but the removal of cataracts will not address the blank spot in the patient’s visual field experienced with AMD.
There is no order for either AMD or cataracts in development. Many patients will develop cataracts and later be diagnosed with AMD. Some patients will first experience issues with AMD followed by issues with cataracts.
Patients with age-related macular degeneration may retain some limited peripheral vision but will not have the vision in the central portion of their eye or eyes. These central cells of the retina are damaged and cannot process the light images to the brain. In advanced or late-stage AMD, this vision loss is irreversible.
Late-stage AMD is the most advanced form of age-related macular degeneration.
This blind spot is different than the visual disturbances experienced with cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens) and is not correctable by drugs, vitamins, injections, cataract surgery or eyeglasses. Side vision, or peripheral vision, is not affected by AMD but is too low resolution to make up for lost central vision.
1. Forooghian F, Agrón E, Clemons TE, Ferris FL 3rd, Chew EY; Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. Visual acuity outcomes after cataract surgery in patients with age-related macular degeneration: age-related eye disease study report no. 27. Ophthalmology. 2009;116:2093-100.
2. Jager RD, Mieler WF, Miller JW. Age-related macular degeneration. N Engl J Med. 2008;358:2606-17.
3. Wan Ling Wong, Xinyi Su, Xiang Li, Chui Ming G Cheung, Ronald Klein, Ching-Yu Cheng, Tien Yin Wong, Global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and disease burden projection for 2020 and 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis, The Lancet Global Health, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2014, Pages e106-e116, ISSN 2214-109X, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(13)70145-1.
4. Hudson HL, Stulting RD, Heier JS, Lane SS, Chang DF, Singerman LJ, Bradford CA, Leonard RE. IMT002 Study Group. Implantable Telescope for End-Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Long-Term Visual Acuity and Safety Outcomes. Am J Ophthalmol. 2008;146:664-673.
5. Hudson HL, Lane SS, Heier JS, Stulting RD, Singerman L, Lichter PR, Sternberg P, Chang DF. Implantable miniature telescope for the treatment of visual acuity loss due to end-stage age-related macular degeneration: one-year results. Ophthalmology. 2006;113:1987-2001.
6. Patient Information Booklet. Information About the Implantable Miniature Telescope (By Dr. Isaac Lipshitz)