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Macular Degeneration is the leading reason for vision loss in people over the age of 60. It occurs when the tiny central portion of the retina, also called the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Since the conditions develops as a person ages, it is primarily referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) Even though macular degeneration rarely ever results in complete blindness. However, it can be a source of signing visual disability.
There are two primary types of age-related macular degeneration:
Dry form- This form of macular degeneration is described by the present of yellow deposits, called drusen, in the macula. A few small drusen may not trigger changes in vision; however, as they grow and increase in number. This may lead to a distortion or dimming of vision that people find most noticeable when they read in more advanced phases of dry macular degeneration. There is also a thinning of the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula causing atrophy or death of tissue cells. Within the atrophic form of dry macular degeneration, people may have blind spots in the center of the vision. IN the advanced stages, patients can lose central vision.
Wet Form. The “wet” Form of macular degeneration is described by the increase of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid beneath the macula. This is named choroidal neovascularization. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, triggering distortion of vision which makes straight lines look wavy, causing blind spots and loss of central vision. These abnormal blood vessels and the bleeding eventually form a scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.
Most people with macular denigration have the dry form of the condition and can lose som form of central vision. However, the de dry form of macular generation can lead to the wet form. Although only 10% of people with macular degeneration develop the wet form, they make up the majority of individuals who experience serious vision loss from the disease. It is very important for people with macular degeneration to monitor their eyesight carefully and see their optometrist on a regular basis.
The main risk is for older adults as the name of the condition would indicate. In fact, it is the foremost cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 60
Macular degeneration may be hereditary, meaning that children can receive the genes from their parents. If someone in your family has the condition, there may be a higher risk for developing macular denigration. You should discuss with your optometrist your individual risk.
High blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol, obesity, women, light complexions a having light eye color are risk factors for macular degeneration.
What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
In the early stages of macular degeneration, you may not have symptoms, and it may go unnoticed until it progresses or affects both eyes. The initial sign of macular degeneration is usually a blurry, dim spot in the middle of your vision. This spot can get larger or darker over time.
- Symptoms of macular degeneration include
- Diminished or changed color perception
- Blurry, Dark are in the center of vision.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see an eye specialist as soon as you can.
Diagnosing Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration can be identified in a routine eye exam. One of the most prevalent early signs of macular degeneration is the appearance of drusen – tiny yellow deposits under the retina – pigment clumping. Your Optometrist can see these when examining the eyes. You doctor may also request to look at an Amsler grid; which is a pattern of straight lines that resemble a checkerboard. Some of the straight lines may look wavy to you, or you may see that some of the lines are missing these can be symptoms of macular degeneration.
If your doctor identifies age-related macular degeneration =, you may have a procedure called angiography or an OCT. In this procedure, a dye is injected into the vein in the arm. Images are used as the dye reaches the eye and flows via the blood vessels of the retina. If there are new vessels or vessels leaking fluid or blood in the macular, the photographs will show their exact location and type. OCT can see fluid or blood underneath the retina without using dye.
Early detection of age-related macular degeneration is very critical because there are trema nets that are available that can delay or reduce the severity of the condition.
What treatments are possible for Macular Degeneration?
Today there is not a cure for macular degeneration; however, treatment may prevent critical vision loss or slow the progression of the disease considerably, Several options are available including:
These drugs (Helena, Lucentis-Avastin, Macugen) prevent the development of new blood vessels and leakage from the abnormal vessels within the eye that prompt wet macular degeneration. This treatment has been a major solution in the treatment of this condition, and many people have actually recovered the vision that was lost. The treatment may need to be repeated during follow-up check-ins.
Vitamins – An extensive study performed by the National Eye Institute of the Nation Institutes of Health ARED or(Age -Related Eye Disease Study) showed that for certain people, vitamins C E, zinc, copper, and beta-carotene could decrease the risk of vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration. However, the components of vision supplements may change with the completion of the AREDSW study. This study goal is to see if adding other vitamins and minerals to the supplement would improve result of the AREDS. They resist the addition of omega -3 fatty acids or fish oil and the second was a combination of tow different carotenoids, zeaxanthin, and lutein, which are found in leafy green vegetables and vibrantly colored vegetables and fruits. The research showed the following:
Beta-carotene does not reduce the risk of progression of AMD.
Adding omega-3 to AREDS foul did not reduce the risk of progression of AMD.
The AREDs formula was still detected to be protective with less zinc added.
Individuals that took a formula with lutein and zeaxanthin and how may not have taken enough in their diet show further improvement with the new AREDs formula.
In general, people who took zeaxanthin instead of beta-carotene had more of a benefit.
Laser Therapy – High power laser light can sometimes be used to destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels that occur in macular degeneration
Photodynamic laser therapy – This is a two-step treatment in which a Visudyne, a light sensitive drug is unitized to damage the abnormal blood vessel. A doctor injects the drug into the blood stream to be absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Thd doctor then shines a cold laser into the eye to active the drug damaging the abnormal blood vessels.
Low vision aids Devices that have special lenses or electronic system that creates enlarged images image of nearby objects.They can assist people who have vision loss to form macular degeneration to make the most of their remaining eyesight.
What is the Outlook of People with Macular Denigration?
People rarely lose all of their vision from age-related macular degeneration. They may have a poor central vision, but they are still able to perform many average daily active.
The wet form of macular degeneration is a principal cause of irreversible vision loss. When both eyes are affected, you may encounter a significant decrease in your quality of life.
The dry form of age-related macular degeneration is much more common and tends to advance more slowly, enabling you to keep most of your vision.
Unfortunately, even after wet macular degeneration treatment, the condition can recur and required repeated treatments. Because of this, people with macular degeneration must test their vision regularly and follow the recommendations of their ophthalmologist. Fruitful and timely treatment will slow the rate of vision loss and often improve vision.