Macular Degeneration: What Is It and Are You At Risk?
You use your central vision for just about everything you do! Could you imagine if it was gone?
Unfortunately, people over the age of 60 have an increased risk of an eye disease that damages their central vision known as macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degeneration, AMD, or ARMD).
In this article, you'll learn what macular degeneration is, who is most at risk, and how the disease is managed.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is an eye disease where there is damage to your macula, the area in your eye responsible for capturing your central vision.
Who is at risk of developing macular degeneration?
A few of the main risk factors for developing macular degeneration include:
Long-term sun exposure
A diet low in vitamins
Having a family member with the disease
How is macular degeneration diagnosed
Macular degeneration is diagnosed by assessing the following:
The appearance of the macula
Thinning or disruption of the macula Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) values
At Northlake Eye, we perform full macular degeneration workups that include the testing listed above.
Dry vs wet macular degeneration
There are two main forms of this disease, the wet form (exudative) and the dry form (nonexudative).
The dry form is more common, often leads to gradual vision loss, and needs to be monitored carefully over time as it can develop into the wet form.
On the other hand, the wet form is associated with bleeding or leakage from abnormal blood vessels inside your eye and can lead to rapidly occurring, severe vision loss. If you have the wet form, you would see a retinal surgeon for proper management.
Dry macular degeneration treatment
Unfortunately, once it develops, dry macular degeneration has no currently available treatment.
However, studies show that taking AREDS 2 Multivitamins (i.e. Ocuvite, Preservision, etc.) helps decrease the rate of progression from moderate dry ARMD to wet ARMD.
Wet macular degeneration treatment
On the other hand, for wet macular degeneration, there are exciting drugs and implants that block a molecule called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). This molecule leads to vision-threatening complications in the retina.
Currently, the commercially available anti-VEGF treatment agents include:
Fortunately, all of these have excellent success rates for the treatment of wet macular degeneration and have saved vision in a lot of patients!
Concerned you may have or be at risk of having macular degeneration?
Schedule an eye exam with one of our doctors of optometry today!