Treating Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease that affects the retina and worsens over time. Though the exact cause is unknown, macular degeneration has been linked to several risk factors, including excess weight, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, smoking, and having a family history of the disease.
AMD occurs when the macula (the central part of your retina) starts to break down. It is the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people aged 50 and older.
What are the types of macular degeneration?
There are two types of macular degeneration:
- Dry macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is less severe than wet macular degeneration and accounts for approximately 85% of cases. However, it can progress to the wet type if a physician does not closely monitor it. Dry macular degeneration develops gradually and results from drusen (tiny yellow deposits of cellular debris) accumulating under the macula. Over time these deposits degrade your central vision, making it difficult to see things directly in front of you.
- Wet macular degeneration
Wet macular degeneration, also called neovascular AMD, is a chronic eye disorder that begins as the dry type. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels form under the retina and leak into the macula. This leads to severe vision loss. Early detection and treatment of wet AMD may help reduce vision loss and even recover vision.
Common signs and symptoms of macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration symptoms typically develop gradually and without pain. Common symptoms include:
- Visual distortions (e.g., straight lines that appear bent)
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- The need for brighter light when performing up-close tasks (e.g., reading)
- Increased difficulty adjusting from high to low light environments
- Increased difficulty recognizing faces
- A well-defined blurry or blind spot in your field of vision
Wet macular degeneration symptoms are the same as dry symptoms. However, they usually appear suddenly and worsen rapidly. If you notice one or more of these symptoms or if your ability to see colors and fine detail becomes noticeably impaired, visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are essential for preventing further vision loss.
Lifestyle changes to help protect your eyes and vision
While there is no cure for AMD, you can help slow the progression of its symptoms with these healthy lifestyle changes:
- Get regular eye exams (even if you see well)
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., salmon, walnuts, and kidney beans)
- Avoid tobacco products
- Manage diabetes,
- Manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Engage daily in physical activity every day
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays
Treatment options for macular degeneration
Currently, there is no known treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration. However, healthy lifestyle changes can help slow or halt the progression of the disease. There is also strong evidence for certain vitamin combinations helping to slow the progression of dry AMD.
A common treatment for wet AMD is the injection of medications called anti-VEGF agents. VEGF is an acronym that stands for vascular endothelial growth factor. High levels of VEGF in the eye are linked to the formation of abnormal blood vessels, which causes much of the damage in wet AMD. Anti-VEGF injections help counteract these receptors, reduce their damaging effects, and stabilize vision in many patients. For some, these injections may also improve visual acuity.
If you’re struggling with blurred vision, vision loss, flashes, or floaters, we’ll help diagnose your condition and recommend the appropriate treatment. Please call 255-768-7777 to take the first step toward clear vision today.