degeneration affects cells in the macula, which is the part of the
retina responsible for central vision. Central vision is
essential for most basic tasks like reading, driving, recognizing
people, etc. Thus, although macular degeneration leaves
peripheral vision un-impaired, it can be quite debilitating in its
disease exists in two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular
degeneration is by far the most common (roughly 90% of all cases).
However, it is the milder of the two forms, develops gradually, and
usually leads to only minor vision loss. Dry macular
degeneration tends to occur when yellow fatty particles called drusen
accumulate in the retina underneath the macula. This build-up
results in thinning and drying-out of the macular cells.
macular degeneration is less common, but the vast majority of severe
vision loss cases result from this form. First, abnormal blood
vessels form underneath the surface of the retina. Leakage of
blood and other fluids from these blood vessels permanently damage
the outside cells (which detect incoming light). As these cells
are damaged, vision is lost.
primary cause of macular degeneration remains unknown. Macular
degeneration typically occurs more frequently in the aging population
with patients over 60. Research has shown there are many other
factors such as family history, smoking, hypertension, obesity,
and/or a high cholesterol, high fat diet that may contribute towards
the development of macular degeneration.
degeneration symptoms may include:
blurriness, or holes in the center of vision.
lines appear wavy.
seeing details both up close and at a distance.
telling colors apart, especially ones close in hue.
can be slow to come back after bright light exposure.
for dry macular degeneration:
there is no treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration.
Those at high risk should schedule a checkup with their
ophthalmologist at least once every one to two years, to catch the
disease in its infancy. Also, it is thought that dietary
supplementation of antioxidants and zinc may help to slow its
is also no cure for wet macular degeneration. There are,
however, several treatments designed to combat the disease. Early
detection is very important because once vision is lost there is no
treatment to regain it.
for wet macular degeneration:
drugs: These inhibit proteins which contribute to
abnormal blood vessel growth. They are known as anti-VEGF
(anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs. There are a
variety of drugs that can be applicable for this purpose, some FDA
approved, and some off-label (officially approved for a different
therapy: Employs a light-activated drug and a “cold”
laser. The drug is injected intravenously. Then the
doctor shines the laser on the affected area, which activates the
drug in the targeted tissue and blocks the leaking blood vessels.
This procedure leaves no scar, and may be repeated several times as
photocoagulation: Seals abnormal blood vessels with a
heated laser. This treatment will sometimes halt the
disease, thus saving the remaining vision of a patient.
However, the laser leaves a scar, creating a permanent blind spot in
the patient’s vision. The treatment is only applicable to a
small segment of cases, in which some vision is sacrificed to save
you are experiencing any symptoms of macular degeneration, we
encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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