What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss of in people over the age of 50. This condition is painless, and occurs because small yellow waste deposits, known as drusen, accumulate in the macula. The macula is the central part of the retina, and is responsible for our sharpest and clearest vision. These drusen deposits result in damage to the macula, and lead to a loss of the central vision. The good news is that macular degeneration will not lead to total blindness. There are two forms of macular degeneration.
The dry form results from atrophy or loss of some of the layers of the macula due to drusen. Fortunately, the vision loss from dry AMD is slow. Unfortunately, no good medical or surgical treatment is available for this condition at this time. However, vitamin supplements with high doses of antioxidants have been suggested to slow the progression of dry macular degeneration.
Also known as neovascular or exudative AMD, the wet form causes vision loss due to abnormal blood vessel growth in some of the layers of the macula. Bleeding and scarring from these blood vessels lead to irreversible damage and rapid vision loss if left untreated. Luckily, only 10% of those with macular degeneration will develop the wet form.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
- Vision loss that is slow or rapid
- Defects in the central vision
- Distorted or wavy vision (metamorphopsias) – straight lines appear wavy
- Trouble discerning colors
- Trouble going from bright light into darkly lit areas
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
- Aging: 10% of people will develop macular degeneration
- Family history
- Macular degeneration gene
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity and high fat intake
- Race: Macular degeneration is more likely to be found in Caucasians
- Exposure to sunlight
Treatments for Macular Degeneration
- Vitamin supplements
- As suggested by the Age Related Eye Disease (AREDS) Study
- Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Copper, Lutein, Zeaxanthine
- Some options include: Ocuvite Preservision, ICAPs or TEBs
- Injections of Anti-VEGF Factors
- Only for the treatment of Wet AMD
- Must be under the care of a retina specialist