Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration is a deterioration of the central part of the retina known as the macula. The macula is responsible for detailed central vision, allowing us to read small print and to see at far distances. The causes of macular degeneration are many and include advancing age (>50 years old), genetics, smoking , hypertension and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Patients with macular degeneration may develop blurriness, distorted vision, blind spots and if advanced complete loss of central vision.
There are two types of Macular Degeneration, the dry form and the wet form. The dry form which is also known as the atrophic form starts with the formation of yellow spots called drusens. With the accumulation of drusens the back layer of the retina becomes thinner with the loss of cells and leads to a gradual loss of vision. Presently there is no medication or treatment for dry macular degeneration; however, there is scientific support that antioxidant vitamins and zinc can help by slowing down its progression toward more advanced stages. These include a daily amount of: Omega 3 fatty acids 1000mg, Lutein 10mg, Zeaxanthin 2mg, Vitamin E 400iu, Vitamin C 500mg, Zinc 80mg, and Copper 2mg.

The wet form or exudative form is when the macular degeneration has advanced to a stage where abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak fluid and bleed. Vision loss is usually rapid and sometimes severe. Treating wet macular Degeneration may involve injections of medications into the eye or the use of laser. The most common medication used to treat Wet Macular Degeneration is known as anti-VEGF. Anti- VEGF medications work by reducing the growth of new blood vessels, slowing their leakage, and causing abnormal blood vessels to regress. With the reduction of abnormal vessels, vision is maintained and sometimes improved. Repeat injections are often needed.

Treatment generally reduces but does not eliminate the risk of severe vision loss.

In both cases of Macular Degeneration it is important for the patient to monitor his/her vision regularly and report any sudden changes to their eye provider.

Written by Dr. Chin

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