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. As we age, the tissue in the eye responsible for central vision slowly begins to deteriorate which can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration can be classified as either wet (neovascular) or dry (non-neovascular).
Only about 10% of patients see their condition progress to the more advanced and damaging 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.
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.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
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, sometimes in as little as a few days or weeks.
Macular Degeneration Causes & Risk Factors
Macular degeneration is most common in females and whites, and the risk for all patients increases with age. This condition is the leading cause of blindness in the US for patients over the age of 65. Over 14% of adults between the ages of 70 and 79 have been diagnosed with advanced or intermediate age-related macular degeneration.
Other factors that may increase your risk of macular degeneration include:
- 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.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Intraocular injections of are often successful in stopping abnormal blood vessel growth in wet macular degeneration. These FDA-approved 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.
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. Our doctors have extensive experience in the treatment of these conditions, and can offer patients the latest, most advanced treatments to help preserve your vision and your overall quality of life. To learn more about our services, call us today to schedule an appointment.