What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration (AMD) occurs when the macular in the eye becomes damaged. The macular is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. When damaged the patient will experience a loss of central vision but will maintain peripheral vision. The two types of Macular Degeneration (AMD) are Dry AMD and Wet AMD.
Dry AMD is the most common form and can be the result of aging. As you age the macular in your eye may thin and tiny clumps of protein called drusen may form. As the drusen accumulate in the macular the patient will begin to lose central vision. This process usually occurs slowly. At this time there is no treatment available for Dry AMD.
Wet AMD is less common than Dry, but it is a more aggressive form of AMD. Patients diagnosed with Wet AMD will lose central vision much more quickly. In Wet AMD abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the macular leaking fluid that damages the macular. Since many patients are unaware that they have AMD, it is important to have regular eye exams to detect conditions such as AMD early.
There are several risk factors associated with AMD including:
- Age (50 and over)
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Eating a diet high in saturated fats
AMD is diagnosed during a complete eye exam. The doctor will dilate your eye and examine your retina and macular. An Amsler grid is used to detect any problems with your central vision. Specific testing known as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) will be performed. The doctor will examine the images from the OCT testing to identify any abnormalities of the retina and macular.
Some Dry AMD patients may benefit from taking a specific combination of supplements each day. The doctor may recommend this protocol. Although the supplements will not cure the condition, for some patients the supplements may slow the progression of vision loss.
For patients with Wet AMD, treatments include anti-VEGF drugs which are injected into the eye to decrease the number of abnormal blood vessels forming and slow the leakage of fluid from existing blood vessels. For some patients, the doctor may recommend laser surgery where a laser light is directed to these blood vessels for the same purpose.