Northwest Eye Clinic

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1400 E. Golf Road, Suite 212 Des Plaines, IL  60016

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Macular Degeneration

Symptoms

Macular degenaration symptoms may include:

  • Straight lines appear wavy.
  • Shadows, blurriness, or holes in the center of vision.
  • Trouble seeing details both up close and at a distance.
  • Vision can be slow to come back after bright light exposure.
  • Difficulty telling colors apart.

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is essential for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading, driving, recognizing people, etc. Although macular degeneration leaves peripheral vision un-impaired, it can be quite debilitating in its advanced state.

In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older. The disease exists in two forms, dry and wet. AMD causes no pain.

Dry macular degeneration is the most common. However, it is the milder of the two forms, develops gradually, and usually leads to only minor vision loss. Dry macular degeneration tends to occur when yellow fatty particles called drusen accumulate in the retina underneath the macula. This build-up results in thinning and drying-out of the macular cells.

Wet macular degeneration is less common, but the vast majority of severe vision loss cases result from this form. First, abnormal blood vessels form underneath the surface of the retina. Leakage of blood and other fluids from these blood vessels permanently damage the outside cells. As these cells are damaged, vision is lost.

The primary cause of macular degeneration remains unknown. Research has shown there are many other factors such as family history, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and/or a high cholesterol, high fat diet that may contribute towards the development of macular degeneration.

 

Treatment options 

Dry Macular Degeneration:

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration. Those at high risk should schedule a checkup with their ophthalmologist at least once a year, to catch the disease in its infancy. Also, it is thought that dietary supplementation of antioxidants and zinc may help to slow its development.

There is also no cure for wet macular degeneration. There are, however, several treatments designed to combat the disease and slow its progress. Early detection is very important because once vision is lost there is no treatment to regain it.

 

Treatment options 

Wet Macular Degeneration:

•Laser photocoagulation: Seals abnormal blood vessels with a laser. This treatment will sometimes halt the disease, thus saving the remaining vision of a patient.  

•Photodynamic therapy: Employs a light-activated drug and a laser. The drug is injected intravenously. The doctor then shines the laser on the affected area, which activates the drug in the targeted tissue and blocks the leaking blood vessels. This procedure may be repeated several times as necessary.

•Anti-angiogenesis drugs: These inhibit proteins which contribute to abnormal blood vessel growth. They are known as anti-vascular-endothelial-growth factor drugs. There are a variety of drugs that can be applicable for this purpose, which may include Lucentis, Eylea, Avastin, Triesence and others under research development.