Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common eye conditions that can rob its victims of their central vision. AMD is caused by damage to an individual’s macula. This is the area in the middle of the retina. It can affect an individual’s ability to read, drive and perform other activities. Macular degeneration does not affect the peripheral or side vision, and thus it does not lead to total blindness.
Macular degeneration presents itself in two types, Dry and Wet. 85 to 90 percent of people with the condition have dry macular degeneration. The condition is caused by drusen or small yellow deposits that develop under the macula. 10 to 15 percent of individuals with AMD have the wet type. This condition is caused by abnormal blood vessels developing under the macula and retina. Fortunately, studies have uncovered ways to prevent and treat macular degeneration.
There are different suspected causes of early AMD, and they include inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidation stress is the situation where the balance between molecules in the cells and the body’s ability to neutralize them is disturbed. This stress can be due to different things, including poor diet, bright lights, and excessive iron in the retina. The inflammation that occurs can lead to different age-related diseases such as AMD. Some people are genetically predisposed to the disease. They have a high risk of getting AMD due to certain genes in the immune system.
AMD is a progressive eye disease. This means that it gets worse over time. Most patients do not notice vision changes when the disease is in its early stages. When vision changes affect both eyes, it is difficult to notice the problem. There are common symptoms of the condition, and they include a decrease in central vision, distortion of straight lines, and blurriness. The need for brighter lights and difficulty adapting to low lighting are also symptoms. Retinal damage and trouble identifying faces are common signs of AMD.
Prevention and treatment of AMD have come a long way in the last couple of years. While there is no cure available, there are treatments that can help to slow down the advancement of the disease. People with wet macular degeneration can benefit from medication that is injected directly into the eye. The drugs help to halt the growth of any new veins.
Photodynamic therapy is a treatment option where a special laser is used to close the leaking blood vessels. Photocoagulation is a treatment option that involves the use of laser beams. The high-energy beams work by destroying all abnormal blood vessels. The therapy aims to stop bleeding and to reduce any further damage to the macular. Further treatment is necessary as the vessels can regrow.
Surgery can also be used to improve vision loss due to the condition. Some patients who have early AMD can experience good vision all their lives. Others may progress to get late AMD. Vision changes need to be monitored regularly. A vision rehabilitation specialist can offer tips on how to cope with and adjust to vision loss.
Learn more about causes of macular degeneration & treatments, contact Eastside Eye Physicians in Michigan at (586) 247-2020 or (586) 200-1905.