Macular Degeneration

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration, is an eye condition, mostly affecting older adults over the age of 65. It is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It affects the retina’s central portion called the macula which helps people to see fine detail. This can cause problems in seeing objects clearly, and doing certain activities such as reading, recognizing faces/colors, or driving. 
 
Macular degeneration causes thinning of the macula and eventual death of the macula cells. It can affect one or both eyes. It may also start out in one eye and then end up developing in both. Prompt detection and treatment is important in delaying the progression of vision loss.
 
There are two types of macular degeneration:
 
  • Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These new vessels leak blood and fluid and rapidly damage the macula. 
  • Dry macular degeneration is the more common type and occurs when light-sensitive cells in the macula break down slowly causing a gradual loss in central vision. 
 
 
Risk factors
 
  • Age: macular degeneration is most common in adults ages 65 and older.
  • Race: macular degeneration is more common in white people. 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Smoking
  • Family history and genetics 
 
 
Diagnosis 
In order to diagnose macular degeneration, your doctor will likely perform a complete eye exam and will also look at your medical and family history. 
 
Some tests that may be done to diagnose macular degeneration include:
 
  • Fluorescein angiography is a test where colored dye is injected into a vein in your arm in order to highlight the blood vessels in the eye. A camera then looks at the way the dye travels through the blood vessels to detect any abnormalities. 
  • Back of the eye examination is done by putting special drops into the eyes to dilate them and then using an instrument to examine the back of the eye. If you have macular degeneration, the back of your eye will have a mottled appearance caused by drusen. Drusen are yellow deposits under the retina. 
  • Optical coherence tomography is a retinal imaging test that looks for thickening, thinning, or swelling of the retina. 
  • Central vision defects tests are done during eye examination to look for problems in your central vision. A tool called an Amsler grid is often used. 
  • Indocyanine green angiography also injects dye into a vein in the arm in order to look at the way blood moves through the vessels in the eye. 
  • Visual acuity test to see how well you can see at certain distances. 
 
 
Treatment
There is no cure for macular degeneration. Treatment is aimed at slowing the progression of vision loss and learning to live with the condition. 
 
Possible treatments for macular degeneration include:
 
  • Low vision rehabilitation 
  • Telescopic lens implant surgery
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Submacular surgery 
  • Retinal translocation
  • Low vision aids
  • Vitamins
  • Anti-angiogenic drugs
  • Laser therapy 
  • Photodynamic therapy
 
 
 
# MACULAR DEGENERATION BY THE NUMBERS # 
  • Macular degeneration affects more than 10 million people in the U.S.
  • Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss
  • About 85-90% of cases of macular degeneration are the dry type 
 
about macular degeneration
 
 

Sources:
  • "Dry macular degeneration." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 04 Aug. 2017. Web. 06 Nov. 2017.
  • “What is Macular Degeneration?” American Macular Degeneration Foundation. AMDF, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2017.
  • “Macular Degeneration.” National Institutes of Health U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus, 04 Oct. 2017. Web. 06 Nov. 2017. 
  • “Macular Degeneration Health Center.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2017. 
  • “Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute (NEI), Sep. 2015. Web. 06 Nov. 2017. 
  • “What Is Macular Degeneration?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 01 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Nov. 2017. 
  • “Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2017. 

 

 

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