A leading cause of vision loss in America, macular degeneration slowly claims the vision of those over the age of 65. Since older people are the most at risk for macular degeneration, it is also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD. While age is certainly a factor in assessing who is most at risk for AMD other risk factors include:
- Race (caucasion)
- Family history
- Gender (female)
In general, smokers, obese, Caucasians, those with a history of macular degeneration in their family, or females have the highest risk of suffering from this condition. Serving the residents of Wilmington, Delaware, our highly-trained ophthalmologists can diagnose age-related macular degeneration during an annual comprehensive eye exam, and treat it immediately and effectively to help save your sight.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Macular degeneration is an age-related condition in which the macula—the part of the eye responsible for sharp vision—is slowly destroyed over time. The macula is responsible for your ability to see things straight-ahead of you. If left untreated, this condition can lead to blindness in the central field of vision.
AMD is divided into two types: wet and dry. Wet AMD results from the creation of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula that leak fluid and impair vision. A quickly advancing condition, Wet AMD is the cause of the majority of AMD-related cases of blindness. An early sign of the condition, wet AMD may cause you to perceive straight lines as crooked or curved, which could impair activities such as driving.
Dry AMD is characterized by the slow breakdown of the cells of the macula. As a result, your central line of vision becomes blurry, one of the first symptoms. Another symptom is the existence of drusen—yellow tissue deposits—under the retina. The amount and size of the drusen characterize each stage of dry AMD, with more and larger drusen appearing throughout the advanced stage. Dry AMD can easily and quickly turn into wet AMD, with no warning. All of those with wet AMD had dry AMD first.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Treatment for macular degeneration depends on the form of AMD the patient has. For each condition, there is no cure, though comprehensive treatment can stave off vision loss. Wet AMD is treated with the following therapies:
- Thermal laser photocoagulation, in which a high-intensity laser targets and destroys the irregular, leaky blood vessels.
- Photodynamic therapy, in which a light-activated drug, verteporfin, destroys the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. This quick and painless therapy offers temporary results to slow vision loss.
- Injections, in which drugs—anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF)—are injected into the eye that inhibit the growth of abnormal cells.
Treatments for wet AMD are typically painless and require minimal recovery time. Unfortunately, they are not permanent and must be repeated multiples times in order to slow the progression of vision loss.
While those suffering from wet AMD have a variety of treatment options, those suffering from dry AMD are not so fortunate. Though diet changes and supplements can slow the process of degeneration, there is no surgical or laser treatment available for dry AMD.
Eye Physicians and Surgeons, P.A. Serves Patient with Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the Wilmington Area
Our skilled ophthalmologists diagnose and treat those with age-related macular degeneration. If you are elderly or fall into one of the other risk categories, contact us to schedule an appointment.