Macular Degeneration

macular

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central portion of the retina (macula), the inside back of the eye that is responsible for fine detail vision. The macula is responsible for the focus of the central vision – controlling the ability to drive a car, see objects in detail, read and recognize faces or colors. Vision loss occurs slowly and gradually and affects both eyes at different rates. Macular degeneration is incurable and remains the leading cause of vision loss for those 55 and older. See Macular Degeneration Facts for additional statistics and data on macular degeneration.

Symptoms

  • Early stages may cause little to no symptoms
  • Distorted or blurred vision, straight lines that appear wavy
  • Blind spot in center of vision or sudden loss of central vision
  • Difficulty seeing while reading or driving
  • Hallucinations of shapes or people
  • Difficulty seeing fine details or recognizing faces

If you experience any of these symptoms, call at 866-340-EYES to schedule an appointment as soon as possible

Types of macular degeneration

  1. Wet macular degeneration (exudative) – only affects approximately 10% of those with the condition but accounts for 90% of the severe vision loss caused by the disease. Wet MD occurs when the membrane under the retina thickens then breaks. The oxygen is then disrupted to the macula leading to distorted or blurred vision. Once vision is destroyed, it cannot be restored.
  2. Dry macular degeneration (atrophic) – is the most common type of macular degeneration, affecting 90% of people with the condition. In dry form, there is a breakdown or thinning of the layers of the macula or formation of abnormal yellow deposits called drusen. The damage caused by dry MC is not as severe or rapid as the wet form.

Causes

  • Age
  • Family genetics
  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Head injury
  • Infection

The exact causes of macular degeneration are unknown.

Diagnosing

macular-2Dr. Adelson will check for macular degeneration with a full dilated eye exam. He will use a chart known as an Amsler Grid that can pick up subtle changes in vision. If you suspect you have early stages of macular degeneration, refer to our site as advised by Dr. Adelson to look for changes in vision. We have full instructions on how to test your vision at home on our Amsler Grid page.

Fluorescein Angiography – If Dr. Adelson suspects you have macular degeneration, he will take photographs of your eye after injecting dye called Fluorescein into a vein in your arm. The dye will travels through the body to the blood vessels in the retina, showing atypical blood vessels. These vessels will appear and show if treatment is possible and where.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – uses light waves to create a map of the retina that will show Dr. Adelson areas of thickening or any fluid accumulation.

Treatment

Dry macular degeneration cannot be cured with treatment, You will continue to remain under the care of Dr. Adelson to monitor the eyes. Wet MD may have some treatments below although most patients compensate MD with large print publications and magnifying lenses.

  • Diet and nutritional supplements – Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc have showed a slowing of macular degeneration. Some research studies suggest that people who have diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin (kale, collard greens, raw spinach) may have a lower risk of developing macular degeneration.
  • Medications – Lucentis, Eylea and Macugen have become popular in treating wet MDto help prevent the growth abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage.
  • Laser Photocoagulation – destroys leaking blood vessels that have grown on the macula. This may slow or stop the progression of the disease but will not bring back any vision that has already been lost.
  • Photodynamic therapy/ PDT – this treatment uses a non heat generating laser to treat abnormal blood vessels. A dye is injected into the arm and with the help of the laser, creates a chemical reaction that seals the leaky vessels. This may slow of the loss of vision and in some cases, improve vision.