Macular degeneration is the gradual breakdown of the macula, which causes central vision loss and can affect near and distant vision. It might be difficult or impossible to recognize faces, read, or perform tedious tasks. The condition generally affects older adults, and currently there are no available cures.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet (exudative) and dry (atrophic). Dry macular degeneration is the most common form of the disease and is caused by the slow thinning of the macula as you age. Vision loss is typically gradual.
The wet form of macular degeneration is much less common, occurring in approximately 10 percent of patients who have the disease. Wet macular degeneration occurs when the blood vessels leak in the back of the eye, causing detachment of the macula. Vision loss is often more rapid and severe with this form.
Prevention of Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent macular degeneration, but research from the National Eye Institute shows that high risk individuals can benefit from a combination of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
There is no known treatment for dry macular degeneration. Until recently, the only available treatment for wet macular degeneration was to seal the leaking vessels with a laser or a treatment known as Photodynamic Therapy. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) combines a light sensitive drug with the use of a cold laser treatment. The drug is injected via intravenous infusion (IV), and then travels to the abnormal blood vessels in the eye, where it accumulates. The drug is then activated by a short exposure to the laser light. Recent studies involving the photodynamic drug verteporfin (Visudyne) have demonstrated that people had limited vision loss at the one and two year intervals while receiving treatment.
Patients 60 years of age and older should receive regular eye exams and be aware of signs of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other age-related vision problems. The key to preventing vision loss is early detection and treatment. Kirk Eye Center is committed to offering the latest available treatments for macular degeneration. As new treatments and technologies become available that we feel are beneficial, we will offer them to you.
Further information is available at the websites below.