Comprehensive Guide: Age-Related Macular Degeneration
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Comprehensive Guide: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

June 18th, 2018
Macular Degeneration

Another importance of having your comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist at least once a year is to have a diagnosis whether if you have the macular degeneration disease, especially when you are over the age of 55.
 
A healthy eye consists of a fully functioning retina. The retina is responsible for storing images from the lens of the eye to be sent over to the optic nerves in preparation for the brain to interpret as images. The macula is located at the back layer of the retina. It is responsible for focusing the central field of vision. When an affected individual reaches the age of 55, the disease starts progressing which causes the macula to deteriorate.
 

Causes of Age-related Macular Degeneration

Genetics has been considered to be the greatest cause of macular degeneration. If someone in your family possesses the disease, there is a possibility that you possess it as well. The disease is hereditary in nature.
 
An overwhelming percentage of people affected by the disease are Caucasians who have lighter eye color. But to date, there has been no specific lead as to what ultimately causes macular degeneration, although a person’s lifestyle may play a key role in its development.
 

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration affects elderly adults by the age of 55 and continues to develop over time. However, there is a form of macular degeneration affecting young adults caused by a recessive gene called Stargardt disease. It is diagnosed differently from age-related macular degeneration.
 
Smoking cigarettes has been said to amplify the disease’s progression by 50%. If you are diagnosed with macular degeneration, stop smoking immediately.
 

Vision progression of age-related macular degeneration

Vision progression of age-related macular degeneration


 

Types of Age-related Macular Degeneration

Types of age-related macular degeneration

 

Dry Form

According to recent studies, 90% percent of the population affected by macular degeneration possess the dry form.

The deterioration of the macula under this type involves the formation of deposits called drusen which distorts straight lines and blurs spots of vision at the central part of sight. As the drusen deposits increase in size and number across the macula, it becomes harder to see as vision gets blurry and color perception becomes unstable. Ultimately, central vision is lost as characterized by a huge black spot at the center of sight if the growth of drusen deposits are not monitored and controlled.
 

Wet Form

10% of the people affected by the age-related macular degeneration disease have the wet form.

The wet form of macular degeneration is a condition that promotes the abnormal growth of blood vessels underneath the macula known as choroidal neovascularization. This is characterized by the blood and liquid leakage from the malfunctioning blood vessels. As a result, the retina gets flooded with alien liquids which initiates light sensitivity and blurry vision. Untreated wet form of macular degeneration leads to the formation of an overwhelming black spot at the center of vision.
 

Cure for Macular Degeneration

To date, there has still been no cure for macular degeneration. However, treatments have been developed and are readily available to significantly reduce the progression of the disease. Treatments vary depending on which type the patient has.
 

Treatments to Reduce the Progression of Macular Degeneration Considerably

 

On Dry Form

Nutritional therapy involves the mapping out of appropriate diet prescription that amounts to a combination of vitamin and mineral intake. Along with this, supplements are also given to address the production of drusen in the retina.
 

On Wet Form

Avastin, Eyelea, Lucentis and Macugen are among the drugs that are given to people with wet form macular degeneration. These have been proven to significantly reduce the development of new abnormal blood vessels in the retinas. They are effective for about 2 months and follow-ups must be made to further treatment.
 

Photodynamic laser therapy

A light-sensitive drug called Visudyne is injected into the bloodstream. Then, a cold laser is passed across the affected eye to activate the drug on the abnormal blood vessels. This procedure damages the unwanted blood vessels which prevents them from further leaking blood and liquid inside the retina. A single therapy session can last for months but follow-ups should be scheduled to maintain the treatment.
 

Experiencing Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The development of age-related macular degeneration cannot be stopped, but a significant change to one’s lifestyle can considerably slow the progression of the disease. Early stages of age-related macular degeneration may have zero to little symptoms that is why it is highly required to consult with your optometrist at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam. Schedule an online appointment now with Trillium Eye Care in Jacksonville, Florida. Our highly experienced St. John’s Eye Doctors will be able to diagnose and reduce the development of age-related macular degeneration considerably. Make an online appointment today.
 

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