If you compare the human eye to a camera, the macula acts like the film. It collects highly detailed images at the center of the field of vision and sends them up the optic nerve to the brain. When a patient has macular degeneration, the images are not received correctly. If you are reading this, it probably means you have just been diagnosed, or suspect you may have macular degeneration. At [[[CLIENTEX:PracticeName]]], we want to provide you with information that will help you better understand the disease, its causes, risk factors, and possible treatments.
What is Macular Degeneration?
There are many possible causes of macular degeneration. However age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is by far the most common. In fact, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in patients 60 years of age and older. There are two forms of ADM: wet and dry.
Wet age-related macular degeneration is characterized by an extreme progression of severe central vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when new, abnormal blood vessels grow between the retina and outer coat of the eye, known as the sclera. These blood vessels often leak blood and fluid that raises the macula from its normal resting position. This can interfere with the retina’s function and cause your central vision to blur.
Dry age-related macular degeneration has a much slower progression of vision loss. Some patients may notice little change in their vision at first. Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. As the macula loses function, your central vision slowly diminishes. There are three stages of dry AMD: early, intermediate, and advanced. Patients with early AMD do not typically notice any symptoms. They may have several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. Retinal drusen are yellow deposits under the retina. Only Drs. Zamberlan and Horrocks will be able to determine if you have any drusen. As the disease progresses the drusen become larger, and some patients may begin to see a blurred spot in the center of their vision. Over time, this blurred spot will become bigger and darker.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
While the exact cause of macular degeneration is not known, there are several risk factors, the biggest of which being age. The disease is most likely to occur in patients 60 and older. Genetics, race, and smoking also play a role in macular degeneration.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is no current treatment that will reverse the effects of dry macular degeneration. However, there is treatment available to delay or prevent intermediate AMD from progressing to the advanced stage of severe vision loss. You can also slow the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration through lifestyle changes.
Wet AMD, on the other hand, can be treated with photodynamic therapy, injections, and laser surgery. While there is still no permanent cure for wet AMD, these treatments can halt or slow severe vision loss. Even after the reduction of leaky blood vessels, further treatment may be necessary.
Schedule Your Appointment
If you would like to learn more about macular degeneration, call 360.553.1312, and schedule your appointment today!