Macular Degeneration

~ Evaluation and Treatment

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition in older adults and the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65. Macular degeneration affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for the crisp, detailed vision needed for reading or driving.

Types

Macular degeneration can be classified as either wet (neovascular) or dry (non-neovascular). Dry macular degeneration is the more common diagnosis, and is considered to be an early stage of the disease. This type of the disease usually develops as a result of aging and thinning of macular tissues and the depositing of pigment within the macula.

Only about 10% of patients see their condition progress to the more advanced wet macular degeneration. In wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels develop beneath the retina and cause a leakage of blood and fluid. This leakage can lead to permanent damages in the central vision and the creation of blind spots. Although less common, wet macular degeneration accounts for 90% of the blindness caused by all cases of this condition.

Symptoms

Patients with macular degeneration may notice gradual changes to their vision, including shadowy areas in the central vision, or fuzzy and distorted vision. These areas grow larger as the disease progresses, and can eventually turn into blind spots. Patients may also have difficulty seeing color and fine details.

If the disease progresses to the wet form, patients may also see straight lines as wavy. With wet macular degeneration, central vision loss can occur rapidly.

Your doctor may be able to detect early signs of macular degeneration before any symptoms occur, through a regular eye exam. Progression of this condition can be detected by testing your central vision with an Amsler grid. Regular eye exams are important in detecting macular degeneration and other serious eye conditions as early as possible, so that the risk of permanent vision loss can be minimized.

Causes and Risk Factors

Macular Degeneration Treatment | Vero Beach | Fort Pierce FLThe biggest risk factor for macular degeneration is aging. This disease can also be related to a genetic factor in patient who have a gene variant known as complement factor H. Nearly half of the blinding cases of macular degeneration are linked to this genetic deficiency.

The biggest risk factor for macular degeneration is aging. This disease can also be related to a genetic factor in patient who have a gene variant known as complement factor H. Nearly half of the blinding cases of macular degeneration are linked to this genetic deficiency.

Other factors that may increase your risk of macular degeneration include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heredity
  • High fat diet
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • High blood pressure
  • Lighter eye color
  • Side effect of certain drugs

Patients can minimize their risk of macular degeneration by practicing a healthy, active lifestyle and getting regular eye exams. It is important for all patients to exercise regularly, avoid smoking, and eat a balanced diet that includes foods known to preserve vision and prevent eye diseases.

Treatment

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are several treatment options available to help patients manage this condition and preserve their vision. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the severity and type of the condition, as well as how much, if any, permanent vision loss has occurred.

Intraocular injections of Avastin, Lucentis and Macugen are often successful in stopping abnormal blood vessel growth in wet macular degeneration. These medications are injected into the vitreous of the eye on a monthly basis to control the damaging effects of wet macular degeneration. Photodynamic therapy is also effective in removing newly developing abnormal blood vessels that are characteristic of wet macular degeneration. Many patients also benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements.

It is essential for patients with macular degeneration, wet or dry, to seek continuous medical treatment to manage their condition and prevent permanent vision loss from occurring. To learn more about our services, call us today to schedule an appointment.