Causes And Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Macular Degeneration

The cause of dry AMD is unknown. The cause of wet AMD is new blood vessels growing beneath the retina, where they can leak fluid and blood.

Possible risk factors for AMD include:

  • Gender: According to some studies, women are at greater risk than men.
  • Age: Although AMD can occur during middle age, the risk for developing the disease increases as a person ages. Studies have shown that people in their 50s have only a two percent risk of developing AMD, and the risk rises to nearly 30 percent in people over 75.
  • Smoking: Recent studies have shown that smoking is a major risk factor for AMD.
  • Family history: People with a family history of AMD may have a higher risk of developing it.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure and general cardiovascular disease may be a risk factor.
  • Obesity: Studies have indicated that obesity may be linked to the progression of AMD.
  • High cholesterol: People with elevated blood cholesterol levels may be at higher risk for wet AMD.

Diagnosing macular degeneration

Your eye care professional will take a complete medical history and may perform one or more of the following tests to diagnose AMD:

  • Visual acuity test: This common eye chart test measures vision ability at various distances using a series of lenses.
  • Amsler grid:This diagnostic test uses a grid to determine if the straight lines appear wavy to you or look like they are missing. If either is the case, you may have wet AMD.
  • Amsler Grid
  • Fluorescein angiography: To detect wet AMD, a special dye is injected into a vein in the arm, and pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in the retina. The dye helps the physician see if blood vessels are leaking in the eye and if they are treatable.
  • Pupil dilation: The pupil is widened with eye drops to allow a close-up examination of the eye's lens and retina.