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Doctor’s blog: Macular Degeneration

WHAT IS MACULAR DEGENERATION?

Macular degeneration is a condition which affects the central vision and color vision, usually in seniors.  The central part of the retina, called the macula, which captures the image for the eye, begins to die off and not work properly.  Reading is usually first affected, and vision can worsen to where it becomes difficult to recognize people and drive.

WHY DOES MACULAR DEGENERATION OCCUR?

At this time, we do not know why it occurs, but it is more common in smokers, and can run in families.

WHAT IS DRY MACULAR DEGENERATION?

There are 2 main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.  My patients often ask me which is worse, dry or wet?  The answer: neither!  Each has its own difficulties.  Dry macular degeneration is when the retina can’t get rid of waste products and it builds up and slowly kills off the retina.  It is often very slowly progressive over time.  You will not go completely blind with macular degeneration, but can lose reading and ability to recognize details in the center of your vision.

WHAT IS WET MACULAR DEGENERATION?

Wet macular degeneration is when blood vessels break through these injured areas of retina causing bleeding and swelling inside the retina.  Patients unfortunately have often rapid vision loss.  There is current treatment available for this.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT AND PREVENTION of MACULAR DEGENERATION?

For wet macular degeneration there is a treatment to stop it from worsening and even gain some vision back.  This involves an injection into the eye, usually monthly for 3 months at a time or more.  For dry macular degeneration, there is no cure, but the current treatment is prevention. Vitamin and nutritional therapy are the keys to treating this disease at this time.  Something to keep in mind is that dry macular degeneration can become wet and vice versa.

SELF MONITORING FOR CHANGES IN VISION

There is a small grid called an Amsler grid which you can use to test yourself monthly.  Click here for printable Amsler grid.  If you notice any change in your vision, you should see your doctor as soon as possible for further testing.  The good news is you will never go completely blind with this disease, although your daily activities may need to change over time.

 


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