Macular degeneration and treatment is a service offered by Respect Eyecare.
We believe in a proactive approach when it comes to taking care our people's eye disease.
We use the latest microscopic, 3D, cross-sectional retinal imaging instruments to accurately monitor your macula health, recommend supplementation when beneficial, and refer to trusted ophthalmology centres when needed.
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Macular Degeneration FAQ
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration, also known as AMD (or age-related macular degeneration) is basically an issue with your retina. This condition occurs when a part of the retina known as the macula is damaged.
A person who suffers from macular degeneration will experience the loss of their central vision. They will have difficulty seeing fine details, regardless of how close or far away the object is. However, the peripheral vision is not affected by this condition, so should remain unchanged.
Unfortunately, macular degeneration is very common and is in fact one of the leading causes of vision loss in patients who are 50 years or above.
There are actually two types of macular degeneration, not just one. The first of these is dry AMD. 8 out of 10 people who have AMD have dry AMD. Dry AMD occurs when areas of the macula thin as the patient ages.
As these parts of the macula thin, tiny clumps of protein also grow– these are known as drusen. The patient slowly begins to lose their central vision. The other type of macular degeneration is wet AMD.
This type of macular degeneration is both less common and more severe. It occurs when new and abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. In turn, these blood vessels may leak various fluids and cause scarring of the macula.
With this form of AMD, patients begin to lose their vision faster than with dry AMD.
What are the early warning signs of macular degeneration?
There are a few different signs that you are developing macular degeneration. One of the first signs that you may notice is a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision. Another warning sign is that straight lines will look distorted to you, and a third sign to be concerned with is the appearance of either dark, blurry areas or whiteout in the center of your vision– or both.
If these phenomena occur constantly, you should see your eye doctor right away in order to get a diagnosis. A last and rare warning sign of macular degeneration is a change in your perception of colour.
Often, a patient does not realize they are suffering from macular degeneration until they begin to lose their vision. It is important to pay attention whenever you experience any strange changes to your vision. This will allow you to catch any vision issues early before they worsen.
Can macular degeneration be cured?
Unfortunately, macular degeneration cannot be cured or reversed. However, it can be treated so that it does not worsen and a patient does not lose their vision completely. Different factors will be taken into consideration when making a treatment plan, including the patient’s age, health, and medical history, as well as the extent and nature of the condition that the patient is dealing with.
One of the common treatments for macular degeneration is the injection of medications known as anti-VEGF agents.
VEGF is short for vascular endothelial growth factor, and high levels of VEGF in the eyes is commonly linked to the formation of the abnormal blood vessels that cause the macula damage in wet AMD. These anti-VEGF injection agents are therefore used to combat the progress of wet AMD and to reduce the damaging effects that these blood vessels have on the eye. This treatment has been shown to be effective in stabilizing vision in patients.
Anti-VEGF injections have also been shown to improve the level of visual acuity in some patients. These medications are administered by an injection directly into the affected eye– or eyes. This is done with a fine needle and after the administration of anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye prior to injection. Some of the other treatments for AMD include laser eye therapy, depending upon the patient’s condition.
How long does it take to go blind with macular degeneration?
If macular degeneration is caught and diagnosed in time, a patient will not have to go blind or fully lose their vision at all! It is important for a patient to get treatment as soon as possible in order to save their vision. If diagnosed, steps can be taken to slow the progression of this disease.
When it comes to the later stages of macular degeneration, you may experience difficulty seeing clearly in your central vision, though your peripheral vision will be unaffected. If possible, you should try to pinpoint any symptoms of AMD before you begin to experience vision loss, so that you can nip the progress of the disease in the bud.
Obviously, every patient’s vision loss progresses differently and depends upon different factors. However, on average, it takes around 10 years for a patient to progress from diagnosis to legal blindness. If, during this time period, the patient sets up a treatment plan, this can be averted and blindness can be avoided. As there is no reversal of macular degeneration, though, the patient will not be able to regain any of their lost vision.
What is the main cause of macular degeneration?
The main cause of macular degeneration is not quite known, but research has shown that it can be attributed to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Some of the more controllable factors of macular degeneration are smoking habits and your diet.
The two types of macular degeneration are caused by different occurrences in the eye. Wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels leaking blood and other fluids into the macula and causing scarring, while dry AMD is caused by thinning of the macula and protein buildup as a person ages.
Those who are more at risk of developing either type of macular degeneration fall into the following categories:
● Smoke cigarettes
● Eat a diet high in saturated fat
● Have a family history of macular degeneration
● Have a history of heart disease
● Have high cholesterol levels