A chronic eye disease that occurs as you age is called macular degeneration, which is often called age related macular degeneration or ARMD. Your central vision is controlled by the retina which is located on the back side of your eyeball. The macula is a layer of tissue that is part of the retina and when it begins to deteriorate it is called macular degeneration. There are actually two types of this disease which are called wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration.
It is important to understand that this condition only affects your central vision. What this means is that your peripheral vision is not affect so a patient with this condition will not become totally blind but the central vision can be lost. This makes it difficult to perform many normal everyday tasks such as reading, writing, driving and even recognizing friends and family because it can be difficult to see faces.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration can greatly affect a person’s life and make it difficult or impossible to do things for themselves. It is the leading cause of vision loss in patients over sixty years of age and it can continue to get worse as the person gets older. There are several symptoms associated with this eye condition.
- Blind or blurry spot in the center of your vision
- It’s hard to read print or see road signs
- You see gray or black colored spots
- You may not be able to perform task in dim lighting
Macular degeneration normally comes about in a slow gradual way but it is possible for it to progress very quickly. When this happens you run the risk of losing vision in one or even both eyes. Below is an animation video that explains the disease.
There are several treatments for wet macular degeneration but the success of these treatments depends on several factors. The sooner you discover you have this condition and begin treatment the better your success rate will be. It will also depend on where the degeneration is located and the extent of the damage. Keep in mind that the damage that is already done can’t be reversed but future damage can be prevented.
Treatments used for wet macular degeneration:
- Macular Translocation Surgery
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Anti-vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Medications
If you are using weekly wear prescription colored contact lenses, you can continue using them after your treatments.
At this time there are no treatments for dry macular degeneration but more studies are being conducted on a regular basis. Having this type of macular degeneration does not mean that you will be completely blind because it usually progresses very slowly so you can live a fairly normal life.
Macular degeneration treatments that are being researched at this time:
- Kenalog – A steroid drug to treat swelling and inflammation of the eyes.
- Rheophoresis – A procedure involving removing, filtering and returning blood to the body.
Certain measures may help delay macular degeneration or in some cases even prevent it but they are not guaranteed. It is suggested that you take supplements and eat foods that contain antioxidants. Protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and don’t smoke. It is always recommended that you get regular eye exams so if you do develop a problem it can be detected and treated sooner.
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