According to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, Macular Degeneration is the most frequent cause of legal blindness for patients aged 55 and above in the United States and is estimated to affect over 10 million Americans. This is a serious degenerative eye disease that requires immediate attention from a medical ophthalmologist.
Before you can start to learn about macular degeneration and why this disease can lead to blindness it is important to understand the parts of the eye. Here are some important aspects to understanding the retina:
If the retina or macula have problems transmitting images through the optic nerve to the brain, blindness can result.
Macular Degeneration, also called age related macular degeneration (ARMD), affects primarily the aging population and gradually destroys central vision. As noted above the central vision is critical for seeing fine details and necessary for performing daily tasks such as reading and driving. This degenerative eye disease causes no pain and typically develops over a long period of time. Patients may notice a blurring or distortion in their central vision. In other words, lines that should be straight may appear to have a bend in them.
The Thomas Eye Group retina eye doctors will determine regular follow-up appointments to monitor (a) your macular degeneration. However, home monitoring can be performed (condition by) using an Amsler grid at least twice a week. This will help so that any changes in vision will be recognized as early as possible. The Thomas Eye Group retina eye doctors will provide any instructions necessary to use the Amsler grid.
There are two forms of macular degeneration- dry and wet. Neither form tends to cause total blindness, but both can cause severe loss of central vision over time.
This type of macular degeneration does not cause total blindness but typically worsens over time with (the) blurring of the vision and blind spots located in the central vision. Dry macular degeneration involves the presence of yellow deposits known as drussen spelled drusen in the macula. As these yellow spots grow in size and increase they will lead to a dimming effect or distortion of vision. In the advanced stage of dry macular degeneration, central vision is lost but total blindness may not occur.
Wet Macular Degeneration affects much less of the total macular degeneration population. With wet macular degeneration blood vessels grow abnormally underneath the macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing vision distortion. It is believed that the diseased retina stimulates the production of these new blood vessels in response to a decreased supply of nutrients and slow transport of wastes. Unfortunately, new blood vessels do not improve the health of the retina. Instead, they often leak blood or fluid into the retina.
For more information regarding wet macular degeneration feel free to visit the National Eye Institute website
Thomas Eye Group provides various treatment options for macular degeneration including
This drug was originally used for cancer patients but is now used to treat wet macular degeneration and works by inhibiting growth of abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye.
The objective of the Avastin™ is ultimately to prevent further vision loss. Some patients have reported some regained vision but the medication should not be expected to restore vision that has already been lost due to macular degeneration.
Avastin and Lucentis injections are referred to as intravitreal injections. This implies that the injection is placed directly into the vitreous of the eye. After your eyes have been treated with topical eye drops and 4% Lidocaine, Betadine may be used around the eyelids to prevent infections. Once the lid speculum is in place the injection can begin. After the injection the eye doctor will ask you if you can see his or her hands or light. Your eye doctor may also measure your intraocular eye pressure before you leave the office. These injections will need to be repeated every four to five to six weeks.
Clinical studies of Avastin injections indicate that when given to patients who have evidence of new blood vessel formation monthly over 90% of patients will maintain their vision.
Lucentis is a prescription medication for the treatment of patients with wet macular degeneration. As mentioned earlier in on this page wet macular degeneration involves the leaking of blood vessels onto the retina. After receiving FDA approval in June of 2006 Lucentis has become a guiding light source for patients once facing blindness.
Prior to receiving your Lucentis injection your eye will be prepped and cleaned in order to prevent any type of infection. Our retina specialists will then numb your eye to limit any discomfort. Patients do report slight pressure on the eye. Once the injection has passed the pressure will subside.
The eye doctors at Thomas Eye Group will discuss with you a selected treatment program, which typically varies for each patient. Our doctors will review any associated benefits and risks and will completely educate you on this process before you decide to proceed.
If you have a family history of macular degeneration or are a cigarette smoker you may choose to make some lifestyle changes that could help prevent macular degeneration in the future. Listed below are a few tips for macular degeneration prevention.
For more information regarding macular degeneration feel free to visit the National Eye Institute website
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