The macula is a small area at the centre of the retina that provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving and seeing fine detail. Macular degeneration refers to the deterioration of the macula.
Why Is It Important?
Macular degeneration can cause gradual or sudden, severe and often irreversible loss of vision in the middle of your visual field.
Reduction of vision in the central part of the retina causing difficulty in reading or recognizing peoples faces
It usually does not affect the eye's side, or peripheral, vision
If you notice words looking blurry on a page, a dark or empty area in the center of your vision, or crookedness of straight lines, you may have symptoms of macular degeneration
The two types of ARMD are "dry" (atrophic) and "wet" (exudative):
"Dry" Macular Degeneration (atrophic)
Most people have the "dry" form of ARMD. It is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Vision loss is usually gradual.
"Wet" Macular Degeneration (exudative)
The "wet" form of macular degeneration accounts for about 10% of all ARMD cases.
Wet ARMD results when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina at the back of the eye leak fluid or
blood and blur central vision. Vision loss may be rapid and severe.
What You Need To Do:
Get regular eye checkups from an ophthalmologist, especially yearly after 50. Avoid smoking, uncontrolled hypertension and prolonged exposure to bright sunlight as these increase the risk of macular degeneration. You can detect early stages of macular degeneration by using a simple vision test using a chart called the Amsler grid.
Macular degeneration cannot be reversed. Its impact, however, can be reduced
Laser surgery and medications can be used to treat certain types of macular degeneration.
Certain types of "wet" macular degeneration can be treated with Injections - They target a specific chemical in your body that is critical in causing abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. That chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Anti-VEGF drugs block the trouble-causing VEGF, reducing the growth of abnormal blood vessels and slowing their leakage. The recent development of anti-VEGF medications have become an exciting advance in the treatment of wet ARMD.
Bevacizumab (Avastin) and Ranibizumab (Lucentis) are two very useful drugs. Most patients will retain the vision they have and some will regain some of the lost vision after these treatments.
These procedures may preserve more sight overall, though they are not cures that restore vision to normal.
Despite advanced medical treatment, most people with macular degeneration still experience some vision loss.
There should be no delay in taking the treatment advised by the retinal surgeon.
Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body's natural aging process. Exactly why it develops is not known, and no treatment has been uniformly effective.