Macular Degeneration

About Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the part of the retina in the back of the eye called the macula. The macula allows a person to see fine detail. People with macular degeneration might have trouble with daily activities that require central vision, such as reading and driving. The major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is aging.

There are two types of AMD: wet and dry. Often, an early physical sign of dry AMD is the presence of drusen. Drusen are yellow deposits under the retina and can be found readily in people over age 60. Our Columbia ophthalmologists can detect drusen during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Drusen alone do not usually cause vision loss, but an increase in the size or number of drusen might signify that a person will develop either severe dry AMD or wet AMD.

Risk Factors

The most significant risk factor for AMD is age. Although AMD can affect middle-aged people, people over 60 are at a greater risk than other age groups.

Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • Race, as Caucasians are much more likely to lose vision from AMD than African Americans.
  • Family history with the disease.
  • Gender, as women appear to be at greater risk of AMD than men.


Symptoms depend on the type of AMD. Both dry and wet AMD cause no pain. Other symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Vision Loss.
  • Vision where straight lines appear crooked or wavy.
  • Blind spots cause a loss of central vision.


AMD is detected during a comprehensive eye exam

Treatments We Offer

There is no cure for AMD, but treatments can keep the condition from getting worse, such as taking high doses of zinc, beta carotene, and vitamins C and E and medications injected into the eye known as “anti-VEGF therapy.” Other drugs include ranibizumab, aflibercept, pegaptanib, and bevacizumab, and the FDA has approved them. Other treatments include:

  • Pharmacotheraphy – This treatment involves injecting drugs into the eye that cause regression of the blood vessel growth and leakage. We offer the most developed drugs that require fewer injections and preserve central sight
  • Photodynamic therapy – A cold laser combined with a light-sensitizing medication called verteporfin. It can help close new abnormal blood vessels without creating a scar. This can help with some types of wet AMD.
  • Photocoagulation – A high-energy laser beam is used to destroy the new abnormal blood vessels. This can help with some types of wet AMD.
  • Surgery – Can help with some types of wet AMD.
  • Gene Treatment – Our vitreoretinal specialist also involved in gene treatment for both dry and wet macular degeneration. These treatments require a surgery to introduce a gene for correcting the underlying genetic defect or inducing patients’ own retinal cells to produce molecules for inhibiting the aberrant blood vessels.

Why Choose Columbia?

The retina specialists at Columbia are uniquely skilled to treat macular degeneration, with our world-renowned experts leading the way in research and innovative treatment therapies and surgical techniques to provide the most advanced care to our patients. In fact, we are pioneers in using gene surgical methods for macular degeneration by using tissue engineering to reconstruct the macular anatomy.