Macular degeneration affects and damages the macula of the eye. The macula is the central portion of the retina at the back of the eye. One of it’s many jobs are allowing us to see fine details with a certain amount of clarity. Things such as threading a needle or reading a book becomes a task due to the blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision.
Macular degeneration usually affects those individuals over 55 years of age. Depending on the exposure to UV-A and B, lack of nutrition and other factors, macular degeneration isn’t always caused by age. There are other drugs and factors which lead up to the cause of macular degeneration other than just being age.
Macular degeneration usually affects people over age 65, which is why the term age-related macular degeneration (AMD) often is used to describe the condition. However, certain drugs can cause macular degeneration, and some cases are inherited, such as Stargardt's disease, which can affect children and young adults.
Macular degeneration is an ever growing problem especially with older individuals. As we age, become exposed to excessive sunlight, smoke, have a poor diet, obesity, the risk of getting macular degeneration increases. There are no way to prevent but we can follow steps in preventing the spread of macular degeneration.
Age Related Macular Degeneration is an age related condition which affects people who are 55 and older. We are now finding out through various types of research and observation, macular degeneration is an inherited trait. 1 in 5 families will have macular degeneration as they age yet research has shown yearly check-ups have slowed the progression of this condition when detected early. It affects the central portion of your vision yet peripheral is unharmed in most cases. It causes issues with driving, reading and performing activities which are very detailed or use your central vision. Peripheral vision is unaffected in most cases yet left unattended, could cause further harm.
Even though macular degeneration is thought and researched to be hereditary, there are precautions we can take to help prevent the damage caused by macular degeneration. First, a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables are a must. Inside each vegetable and fruit, are proteins such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Even though there are only small amounts present, any amount could help in the prevention of this condition. Second, there is a supplement, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and highly suggested, in fighting macular degeneration. Meso Zeaxanthin contains the Lutein and Zeaxanthin used to help block the occurrence and progression of macular degeneration. Doctors can prescribe Zeaxanthin in a 10mg form along with your diet and intake of fruits and vegetables. The skin of salmon, oysters and other seafood, supplemented with fruits, vegetables and Meso Zeaxanthin, can be combined to help prevent macular degeneration.
Early signs of macular degeneration include but are not limited too, loss of vision, straight lines becoming fuzzy, wavy or even disappeared and shadowy areas in the central vision of the eye.
Detection of AMD is quite simple yet very specific and defined. A visual acuity test is given to measure how well you see at various distances and eventually becomes a baseline or standard of sight; to know where you are currently. Next, a dilated eye exam is performed to widen your pupils. This allows the eye doctor to examine your retina and your optic nerve for current eye problems and/or macular degeneration. A tonometry is used to measure the pressure inside your eye which will tell the eye doctor if any pressure is lost or there are any leaks. Finally, during the tests, you’re asked to look at an Amsler Grid. An Amsler Grid is a pattern of a grid which resembles a checkerboard. As you are covering each eye staring at a strategic black dot, you may or may not notice that the straight line(s) in the pattern appear wavy or even missing. A combination of all the tests administered and a consultation with your Optometrist, may or may not reveal macular degeneration.
One way to tell if you are having these vision problems is to view an Amsler grid, which is a chart of black lines arranged in a graph pattern. Click here to see how an Amsler grid works.
There are two stages concerning macular degeneration. One is more common while the other, causes more damage and could lead to total blindness.
The Dry Stage is the most common form of macular degeneration. The dry stage affects the delicate tissues of the macula causing it to thin and loose its functionality. This in turn, causes blurred vision which is a common symptom. You may need more light for reading, trouble reading people's faces or reading a passage in a book or newspaper. Dry stage of macular degeneration can occur in one eye or the in both eyes affecting overall vision. The dry stage however, doesn’t affect the eyes as predominately as the wet stage unless left untreated. Often times left untreated, the dry stage infuses into the wet stage causing far more damage.The Wet Stage is the most damaging form of the two. Wet stage of macular degeneration affects the blood vessels in your eyes, causing them to become abnormal, swell and hemorrhage and eventually, bursting or leaking. This in turn, causes scar tissue which damages the surrounding areas and begins to cause the vessels to leak. The central vision is quickly lost more so than in the dry stage where it takes time. If either stage is left unchecked, unattended or untreated-symptoms and conditions will progress rapidly
No, but treatment can slow or even stop the progression of the wet form, so the earlier you're diagnosed, the better.
Treatment varies depending on the stage of macular degeneration and progression. Lucentis was approved in 2006 for treatment of the wet stage of macular degeneration and has shown positive results. It’s limited to preventing additional vision loss but it’s a start. There are other methods and treatments available which will slow the progress or even stop further vision loss.
Photodynamic Therapy is one treatment which has shown to slow or stop the progression of macular degeneration. An injection of medicine called visudyne into the blood stream to help the breakdown of the vessels or prevention of scar tissue is followed up by brief laser treatments. Several treatments may be necessary for the condition to digress or prevent further damage from taking place. There is also laser surgery to help correct, clean up or repair damage done by the vessels or weakened tissues. Finally, there are injections which are injected into the eye(s) to help the growth of new abnormal blood cells to help relieve pressure and blocks the growth factor.
Latest research is showing that MacuHealth which is high in Lutein and zeaxanthin has provided tremendous success in not only prevention, but regression of this terrible disease. Many patients are restoring their vision with these new and revolutionary supplements.
Patients with vision problems caused by macular degeneration often can benefit from low vision devices to help them read, use a computer and more.