WHAT IS MACULAR DEGENERATION?
Affecting only a specific part of your retina called the macula, macular degeneration refers to a few conditions.
Your head-on vision also referred to as your central vision, is driven by the macula. A loss of your direct vision can occur if this area becomes damaged or diseased. The ability to perform routine activities like driving and reading will be negatively affected. The degenerative process can be slowed through several various treatments.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)
Macular degeneration occurring from a direct relation to age to is extremely common. As we age, the macula tissue becomes hypersensitive and begins to deteriorate. The macula breaks down as the deterioration sets in and central vision can be lost. If left untreated, this can be very serious and is quite common in seniors. The leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65 is AMD.
There are two specific types of AMD: Dry AMD and Wet AMD.
- Dry AMD
9 out of 10 cases of AMD can be classified as Dry AMD and exists when debris forms as a result of the breakdown of the macula. This happens over time and vision decreases gradually. Dry AMD cannot be cured but can be slowed dramatically through a variety of treatment options.
- Wet AMD
Rarely, new blood vessels will be grown in the body to supply blood to the damaged macular tissue. Blood can leak into the retina due to the fact that these new vessels are often weak and quite thin. Rapid vision loss can occur in Wet AMD – this is a very serious condition, but can be treated if detected early with medication and surgical procedures. If you or someone you know experiences rapid vision loss, contact your doctor immediately.
SYMPTOMS OF MACULAR DEGENERATION
Your central vision is affected by macular degeneration and thus, if you are suffering from symptoms of this disease, you will see irregularities when looking at an object directly.
Common symptoms include:
- You have trouble reading
- Objects in your direct line of sight appear blurry, while peripheral objects remain clear
- You may have a sense of blurriness in your direct sight line, while objects in the periphery are clear.
- The center of your vision may incorporate a black spot
- Wavy lines appear when lines should be straight
Routine eye exams typically detect AMD early on and lead to preventative measures to preserve vision. One eye is typically affected at a time and slowly progresses-people go years without any sign of symptoms.
If you are over the age of 60, you should maintain a schedule of routine eye exams and call Williamson Eye Center today to schedule your next exam. AMD risk increases with age and we will help to ensure early detection.
MACULAR DEGENERATION TREATMENT
The treatment for AMD has advanced tremendously, and in some cases, damage can even be reversed. If detected early, treatment can provide effective results.
TREATMENT FOR DRY AMD
Progression of DRY AMD can be reduced by increasing levels of beta-carotene, Vitamins E and C and adding a zinc oxide supplement to your diet. The all-natural supplements have been shown through numerous studies to effectively reduce progression of the disease by up to 25%
In addition to vitamins, there are lights and special glasses and sunglasses, specifically designed for people living with AMD.
TREATMENT FOR WET AMD
In order to treat Wet AMD, blood leaking into the eye and the growth of new, thin blood vessels has to be stunted. Typically, a patient suffering from Wet AMD will be prescribed:
- Lucentis – an FDA approved drug that stops blood vessel growth when directly injected into the eye. In some cases, Lucentis has been reported to stop growth immediately and reverse the effects of vision loss.
- Laser Therapy – When Wet AMD is extremely severe, the blood vessels can be cauterized through laser therapy to stop the bleeding. Vision loss will be halted, but medication must follow this treatment for continued positive effects.