Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. Every ten years after the age of 50 the prevalence of this disease increases exponentially. Many different factors contribute to the development of AMD including genetic, environment, and metabolic functions. Aside from smoking, abnormal blood pressure, and an unhealthy diet low in fruits and vegetables, many more studies are concluding that similar inflammatory and oxidative processes seen in other age related diseases are also playing a key role in the development of AMD. This disease affects the central areas of the retina and choroid. In return central vision is impaired while peripheral vision is usually not lost. AMD is seen in two different forms, the earlier nonneovascular (dry) type and the more advanced neovascular (wet) type. Each form has its own specific pathology and unique characteristics that set them apart. Fatty, protein deposits called drusens may be the key risk factor in understanding dry AMD pathology, progression, and treatment. Once the more advanced wet AMD is diagnosed, pathology and treatment are targeted around the formation and destruction of abnormal blood vessels, characteristic of the wet AMD eye. The increasing prevalence of AMD has influenced more investigation into what factors can be modulated to prevent the onset or to stop the progression of AMD. Early diagnosis is very important because this is when an eye doctor can spot the early signs of the disease through ultrasound or angiography. This text will discuss the pathology of drusens and the role of inflammation and oxidation in the aged eye. By better understanding these processes more effective treatment approaches and preventive
measures can be created to combat this debilitating, costly disease, by focusing on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant therapies.
Dry Macular Degeneration:
The early and most common form of AMD is called dry (atrophic) or nonneovascular macular degeneration. About 90% of AMD cases are known to be in this form. This form does not involve abnormal blood vessels and or leaking of fluid. Vision impairments are still great and potential of complete vision loss is still possible. People affected by dry AMD experience central vision impairments, limited area of central vision, and limited vision when in areas of reduced light. Dry AMD is thought to be the result of the retina breaking down because of the formation of deposits, known as drusen, under the macula. The macula is a small area within the retina that is responsible for central vision. It’s believed that these deposits interfere with vitamin transport, oxygen transport, and waste removal in the aged eye directly affecting the macula causing it to thin and dry out, losing its function. Depending on how severe this thinning and degeneration of the retina is, vision impairments will vary. Macular degeneration in its early stages is associated with minimal vision...