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Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness in those over the age of 65 years (1). Early ARMD It currently affects more than 3.7 million Americans, with the number of new cases increasing rapidly due to the increase in the number of elderly individuals. Risk factors include aging;female gender (ARMD is twice as common in women as in men); systemic hypertension; smoking, which increases risk of vision loss by 30-50%; light complexion;and light-colored irides (2,3).

This course summarizes the pathophysiology of ARMD and presents a review of current strategies for its management.

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a degenerative condition of themacula (the central retina). It is the most common cause of vision loss in the United States in those 50 or older, and its prevalence increases with age.  AMD is caused by hardening of the arteries that nourish the retina.  This deprives the sensitive retinal tissue of oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function and thrive.  As a result, the central vision deteriorates.

Macular degeneration varies widely in severity.  In the worst cases, it causes a complete loss of central vision, making reading or driving impossible.  For others, it may only cause slight distortion. Fortunately, macular degeneration does not cause total blindness since it does not affect the peripheral vision.

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