Macular degeneration – Causes, symptoms, treatments and more

Macular degeneration – Causes, symptoms, treatments and more

Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition prevalent in people older than 50 years. Macular degeneration impairs central vision the most. This condition develops due to the thinning of the macular, a part of the retina. When you look straight ahead, your core vision is what you see. In peripheral vision, macular degeneration does not lead to complete blindness. Read on to know more about this eye disorder.

Causes
Macular degeneration causes central vision loss owing to macula thinning or degeneration. The macula is the area beyond the retina that is responsible for sharp peripheral vision. Dry macular degeneration can start in both eyes or one eye and then progress to both. Your eyesight may deteriorate with time, affecting your ability to read, drive, and identify faces. But you won’t lose your sight as the loss is usually central, with peripheral vision remaining.

Types
Macular degeneration has two forms:

  • Dry degeneration
  • Wet degeneration

Dry macular degeneration affects 85-90 percent of patients when yellow deposits known as drusen form under the macula. The remaining 15–10 percent are diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, wherein abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina and macula.

Symptoms
Macular degeneration develops over time and can worsen if left undiagnosed or untreated. Early in the condition, when both eyes are affected, you may overlook visual issues. Dry macular degeneration symptoms are:

  • A loss of central vision
  • A visual deformation of straight lines
  • Difficulty adjusting to low-light conditions
  • Blurriness
  • Face recognition issues
  • Damage to the retina

Wet macular degeneration symptoms include visual distortions and loss of central vision. Other signs of wet macular degeneration include:

  • A hazy area in your vision
  • A black patch in your eyesight caused by bleeding or leaky blood vessels
  • Illusions

Wet macular degeneration advances faster than dry macular degeneration. Early identification and self-care can slow dry macular degeneration visual loss.

Risk factors
Some people acquire macular degeneration, whereas others do not. But some circumstances might raise your chance of getting it. These risk factors are:

  • Family history
  • Age above 55 years
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High cholesterol

Treatment options
Macular degeneration has no known treatment, but your doctor can suggest ways to halt/prevent its progression.

Wet macular degeneration therapy
If you have wet macular degeneration, you should see a low-vision expert. They can educate you on how to cope with eyesight loss.

  • Anti-VEGF treatment
    Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, or (anti-VEGF), is an injection that halts the development of new blood vessels. There’s also aflibercept, however, it might take many weeks of therapy to see results.
  • Photodynamic treatment
    Photodynamic therapy is another possibility, rarely used nowadays. When your doctor injects into an arm vein, a laser is used to seal bleeding blood vessels. This therapy can improve your vision, but it may take several sessions.
  • Photocoagulation
    Another method rarely used nowadays is photocoagulation which uses high-powered lasers to eliminate dysfunctional blood vessels that help stop bleeding and protect your macula. However, the laser can cause scarring and blindness. Even if photocoagulation works, damaged blood vessels might regenerate, necessitating further treatment.

Dry macular degeneration therapy
Doctors may recommend a low-vision specialist if you have dry Macular Degeneration. Your doctor may advise you to take AREDS 2 eye supplements. They may also suggest surgery to enhance your vision. The surgeon will replace your eye lens with a telescopic lens that enlarges your eyesight during surgery. Patients must, however, meet specific requirements to be eligible for such a procedure.

Prevention
Routine eye exams can detect early indications of macular degeneration. Reduce your risk of dry macular degeneration with the following steps:

  • Manage your other health issues. If you have high BP or heart disease, follow your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Smokers are at a higher risk of macular degeneration than non-smokers.
  • Frequently exercise and watch your weight with lower calorie intake and increased daily activity.

Foods that help

  • Choose fruits and veggies, a nutritious meal plan rich in antioxidants and vitamins that help prevent macular degeneration.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in fish and walnuts help to lower macular Degeneration risks.
  • Make sure you also include green leafy vegetables, seafood ((high in omega-3 fatty acids), and carrots (carotenoids) as they help slow the course of AMD and minimize vision loss.