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Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in Americans over 50. More than 3.5 million people have early stages of macular degeneration. This disease of the macula, the central and most sensitive part of the retina, robs people of central vision. Left with only peripheral vision, they struggle to identify faces, read books and watch TV, because they can see out of the corners of their eyes, but not straight ahead.

About 90 percent of people with AMD have the "dry" or nonvascular form, which usually progresses slowly and may even stop advancing for long periods of time. Thus, although AMD is irreversible, many patients keep most of their vision. However, the "wet" or neovascular form of the disease, caused when tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye grow uncontrollably and leak fluid, can scar the macula. This may cause loss of central vision within days or weeks. Also, the wet form may strike those with the dry form at any time.

What is Macular Degeneration


Wilmer ophthalmologists are leading experts in the study, diagnosis and treatment of AMD. Because AMD - especially the wet form - is relentless in its assault on vision, early diagnosis is critical. Wilmer has developed a new laser technique to detect the early stages of AMD, when the growth of new blood vessels is not yet visible by other means.


Laser techniques not only help diagnose patients now, but also may be used in the future for laser-targeted drug therapy. This promises to make medication more effective by directing it precisely to specific areas of the retina.

Currently, laser therapy to seal off diseased blood vessels in the retina and slow the disease is performed routinely at Wilmer. Once thought to be technically impossible to perform, it was developed by a Wilmer surgeon and is now done regularly at Wilmer. Surgeons also are conducting a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of a new type of surgery to treat AMD. In addition to surgery, doctors use special dyes to detect and treat AMD and utilize the investigational enzyme chondroitinase to prevent macular holes from enlarging during surgery.

> Treated by the Retina Division

More Information:

Dr. Sheila West on the Link Between Smoking and Eye Disease in Women - 7/23/2014

Dr. Pradeep Ramulu and Colleagues Study Relationship Between Vision Loss and Work Status - 7/18/2014

Wilmer Resident Receives Lindstrom Research Grant - 7/11/2014

Four Wilmer Researchers Receive BrightFocus Foundation Awards - 7/10/2014

Dr. Michael Repka Part of Team Researching Telemedicine and ROP - 6/27/2014

Dr. M. Valeria Canto-Soler and Colleagues Featured on WBAL-TV - 6/24/2014

Dr. M. Valeria Canto-Soler and Colleagues Use Human Stem Cells to Create Light-Sensitive Retina in a Dish - 6/10/2014

Wilmer's Division of Ocular Immunology Announces "Living With Uveitis" Support Group - 6/10/2014

Dr. Neil Bressler to Speak on Diabetic Retinopathy at National Eye Health Summit and Webcast - 6/10/2014

Dr. Donald Zack Receives a Research to Prevent Blindness Nelson Trust Award for Retinitis Pigmentosa - 6/9/2014

Dr. Michael Boland Leads Study on Effectiveness of Automated Telecommunication-Based Reminders on Adherence to Glaucoma Medication Dosing - 6/4/2014

Dr. Christina Prescott Discusses Summer Eye Protection on Fox 45 News - 6/1/2014

Dr. Jonathan Song Discusses Treatment Options for Pediatric Cataracts - 5/23/2014

Johns Hopkins' Jordan Green Discusses His Work at Wilmer's Translational Tissue Engineering Center - 5/21/2014

Longtime Wilmer Employee Lillie Alston Honored by Hopkins - 5/19/2014

Dr. Richard Semba: Diets Rich in Antioxidant Resveratrol Fail to Reduce Deaths, Heart Disease or Cancer - 5/12/2014

Dr. Neil Miller Explains Eye Twitching in The Wall Street Journal - 5/12/2014

Dr. Hendrik Scholl Receives ARVO Award - 5/7/2014


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