Macular degeneration is also called age related macular degeneration (AMD), it is found to be the leading cause of vision loss in America. It’s been known that millions of Americans shows sign of this disorder. If you are younger than 55, then there are less chances to develop AMD but on the other hand if you are 65 or over then macular degeneration would already affect your central vision (vision needed for woks like reading or sewing). Macula is a tiny circle located in the middle of the retina, a light sensitive membrane lining the inside of back of the eye. In older people it begins to deteriorate or sometimes degenerate without any reason.
Women are at higher risk to develop AMD than men and the problem leaves totally unable to see. Doctors usually are not sure that what exactly causes a macular degeneration but there are certain risk factors for the same which includes: family history, cigarette smoking and high fat diet.
There are two types of macular degeneration
- Dry macular degeneration– In this type of macular degeneration, 90% of cases fall under this category. The tissue of the retina shrinks and the pigments gets accumulated inside it, whereas dry macular degeneration may progress to the wet form
- Wet macular degeneration– This is second type of AMD in which the new blood vessels grow around and somewhere behind the macula. Sometimes bleeding could also be seen in or behind the macula. Exudates are the material that settles into macula. Gradually exudates start disappearing but it leaves a scar. 10% of the cases fall under this category and wet macular degeneration only occurs when a person already had dry macular degeneration.
Symptoms of macular degeneration
Macular degeneration develops gradually. It is a painless condition or disease so sometimes its early symptoms could be mistaken for normal age related changes in vision. As per Mayo clinic, some of the symptoms of AMD are given below:
- Objects start appearing small or far off
- Difficulty increases to adapt to low light levels
- Decreasing colour intensity and brightness
- Difficulty in recognising faces
- Doorways seeming crooked
- Increasing vision haziness
- Blur or blind spots in central vision
If any of the symptoms occur, it is recommended that one must visit an eye specialist or ophthalmologist immediately.
Ophthalmologist would examine you and do an eye exam to know about macular degeneration from the description of symptoms. An eye test would involve examining the retina visually. He would first look in to the eye and then put some eye drops for dilating the pupils. Occurrence of tiny yellow flecks known as drusen is a sign of AMD. In few cases drusen occurs without AMD, whereas if one increase amounts of this material then it will foretell problems to come. AMD can be detected with a test named as an Amsler grid which a poster showing vertical and horizontal lines and there is a dot in the centre.
Macular degeneration treatment
If a person has advanced or severe dry macular degeneration, then there is no treatment to cure the disease or to restore vision. If the case is of early AMD and person do not even smoke, then there are some combinations of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that could largely help to prevent the disease from worsening. The combination has been named as AREDS formula and the supplements are:
- 500 milligrams of vitamin C
- 400 international units of beta-carotene
- 80 milligrams of zinc
- 2 milligrams of copper
These supplements are to be taken only after doctor’s recommendation. Smokers should avoid these pills. Lutein and zeaxanthin are some other supplements which could be helpful but are not part of AREDS formula. In case of wet macular degeneration, the doctor would prescribe
- Laser therapy in which a small beam of light would destroy the leaking and some abnormal blood vessels.
- In photodynamic therapy, what happens is a light activate a drug which gets injected into the body and destroys leaking blood vessels.
- There are some special medicines which are designed to prevent new blood vessels from forming in the eye.
Always take care of your eyes and follow preventive measures to prevent future eye problems. In case of dry macular degeneration, always visit your eye specialist once in a year and get complete eye exam. Whereas for wet macular degeneration, frequent and monthly doctor visits are required.
Finding even a slight change in the vision should be immediately treated because the sooner you get treatment, the better is the outcome. In order to reduce the risk of getting macular degeneration, keep exercising, quit smoking, follow healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. In this way you could help yourself getting a perfect vision forever.