What is macular degeneration?
Many vision issues are related to damage that are inflicted on the macula of the eyes, which is the light-sensing part of the eye and is responsible for central vision. Macular degeneration breaks down the macula and can cause blurred vision or a distortion of the patient’s central vision. Central vision is what patients use to see the finer details of the objects they are observing so, in effect, having macular degeneration will gradually cause the center of the vision to blur while the peripheral vision remains the same. This condition is very common among patients over the age of 60 and is one of the leading causes of visual disability. It has been known to be very debilitating to patients as it can affect their close and distance visions.
When should I consider treatment for macular degeneration?
It is always important to seek immediate treatment for macular degeneration, which can sometimes be a daunting task since they develop fairly slowly and the patient is sometimes even unaware that there is already an ongoing disease. This means that the condition may already be in its advanced stages when the patient starts to notice any of the symptoms. Early detection of macular degeneration will give you a better chance of treating the condition and prevent any more serious damage.
Ophthalmologists at Griffeth Vision recommend that patients come in to have their eyes checked if they start to observe any blurring of their vision, or if they suddenly see shadows or holes towards the center of their vision. Macular degeneration may also be occurring if straight lines appear as wavy lines instead, or if patients begin having difficulty seeing the details of objects when they are up close or even at a distance. Having trouble distinguishing between different colors can also be a sign of macular degeneration.
What are the types of macular degeneration and how are they treated?
- Dry macular degeneration is the most common type of macular degeneration and is manifested in most patients with this condition. This type of macular degeneration is, however, less serious than wet macular degeneration. This condition is caused mainly by the abnormal accumulation of drusen, or yellow fatty particles in your retina, that causes the patient’s macular cells to dry and thin out.Once your vision has been affected by dry macular degeneration there is no way to reverse its effect. The treatment plan usually focuses on the management of the condition to prevent any further, more serious, damage to the vision. This is one of the main reasons why it is recommended that patients who are at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration to make a habit of getting their eyes checked regularly to help with the early detection of this disorder. These patients will benefit from taking zinc supplements and other antioxidants that are proven to delay the progression of the macular degeneration.Patients who have been diagnosed with dry macular degeneration also have the option to having this condition treated through a surgery. The surgical management of this condition involves the removal of the eye’s natural lens and replacing this with what is essentially a miniature telescope. The telescopic implant will significantly improve the patient’s vision and will allow him or her to see more clearly using the remaining healthy retina cells instead of the degenerated ones.
- Wet macular degeneration is the type of macular degeneration that is very rarely seen in patients but, once diagnosed, requires immediate medical attention because it can lead to a rapid loss of central vision. Wet macular degeneration starts with the abnormal formation of blood vessels under the retina. Over time, these fragile vessels will begin to leak blood and fluids into the outside cells, making it impossible for the eyes to detect light and eventually leading to vision loss.About 10% of patients with dry macular degeneration progress to the more serious wet macular degeneration. Most cases of wet macular degeneration are hereditary. Patients who are over 60, smokers, obese, and hypertensive individuals are also at a higher risk of getting wet macular degeneration and should get regular eye checkups at least twice a year.Wet macular degeneration is treated with anti-angiogenesis drugs, which work by inhibiting the proteins that cause the abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina. Other angiostatic treatments that use steroid and Avastin treatments to control the abnormal growth of blood vessels were also found very effective in treating wet macular degeneration and generally improved patient’s vision after only one week of use.
Laser technology is also one of the treatments used for wet macular degeneration and works by sealing off the leaking blood vessels to help improve the patient’s vision. Wet macular degeneration may require repeated treatments so follow-up checkups will be scheduled by the doctor to monitor the progress of the condition.