Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What is Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration (nAMD)?

Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration (nAMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 50. It is a progressive eye disease caused by abnormal blood vessels growing near the center of the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. The new vessels are fragile and leak fluids and blood, resulting in scarring and impaired vision.

nAMD is most common among those over the age of 60, although it can affect younger people as well. In its early stages, nAMD may cause minimal vision loss, but as the disease progresses, it can cause permanent, significant vision loss and blindness.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of nAMD include:

  • Distorted vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty reading
  • Haziness in the center of vision
  • Blind spots in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty changing between light areas to dark
  • Difficulty navigating in dimly lit places

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing nAMD include:

  • Age—the risk of developing nAMD increases with age
  • Smoking—smokers are four to five times more likely to develop nAMD than non-smokers
  • Race—people of African descent are at a higher risk for developing nAMD
  • Cardiovascular disease—people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure have higher risk of developing nAMD
  • Family history—people with a family history of nAMD are more likely to develop the disease
  • Obesity—people who are overweight are at greater risk of developing nAMD

Treating Neovascular AMD

There is no cure for nAMD, but there are treatments available to help slow the progression of the disease and possibly improve vision. Common treatments include:

  • Eye injections—injections of anti-VEGF medicines into the eye can slow the growth of blood vessels and reduce fluid leakage, thus improving vision
  • Photodynamic therapy—a light activated drug is administered intravenously and then a light is used to activate it at the site of the abnormal blood vessels, causing them to shrink
  • Laser surgery—to shrink the abnormal blood vessels and slow the leakage
  • Vitamins and Minerals—vitamins and mineral supplements that may help reduce the risk of developing nAMD

It is important for people at risk for developing nAMD to get regular eye exams so any changes in vision can be detected early and treated promptly.