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Age Related Macular Degeneration

 

Close up of a senior happy couple. Camera: Canon 5D

There are two main types of ARMD including the dry and wet type. Most starts as the dry type and can progress to wet.   There is currently no cure for macular degeneration; however there are many treatments that can help decrease the chance for worsening of site.

Dry macular generation affects more individuals than wet and usually progresses much more slowly than wet.  There is no cure, however patients are offered advice on cessation of smoking, increasing green/leafy vegetables and a healthy diet , taking a multi vitamin with vitamins A, C, E, Zinc ,and possibly a Lutein supplement.  These vitamins and supplements can reduce the risk of progression to wet ARMD by 25-30 %. It usually presents with yellow deposits called drusen, in the macula (the eyes area of central vision).  Symptoms can include but are not limited to visual distortions, such as straight lines seeming bent, reduced central vision in one or both eyes, the need for brighter light when reading or doing close work, and/or increased blurriness and difficulty recognizing faces

Wet ARMD accounts for only about 10-15 % of cases, but the vision loss is usually much more devastating. In this type of ARMD, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina which tend to break and leak fluid into the macula.  In many cases, blood is visible in the retina with wet ARMD during a routine eye exam. Symptoms can include but are not limited to visual distortions, reduced central vision in one or both eyes, a well-defined blurry spot or blind spot in your field of vision, a general haziness in your overall vision or an abrupt onset and rapid worsening of symptoms.

There are treatments for Wet ARMD to help prevent further progression of vision and possibly bring back some site.  The medications are injected into the eye by a retina specialist and may be needed every month or so to maintain benefits .The medications may help stop growth of new blood vessels. These drugs are considered the first line treatment for all stages of wet macular degeneration.  Medications used to treat wet macular degeneration include:

  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • Ranibizumab (Lucentis)
  • Aflibercept (Eylea)

Possible risks of eye injections include conjunctival hemorrhage, eye pain, floaters, increased eye pressure and eye inflammation.

Photodynamic therapy and argon laser photocoagulation may also be used to treat abnormal blood vessels. These are used less often than injection because their success highly depends on which specific form of ARMD is present.

There are many risk factors that contribute to ARMD including family history, age (more common 65 years and older), gender (more common in males), eye color (more common in lighter eyes), and race (more common in Caucasians).  Smoking also increases the risk for ARMD.

All patients who have dilated eye exams will be screened for macular degeneration by each of our eye doctors.  Please call our office to make your appointment today.

By: Stacy Schorner, OD

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