What is Macular Degeneration

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What is Macular Degeneration

Know anyone with macular degeneration? Here's a short update about the disease, symptoms and treatment.

Macular degeneration is a common retinal disease which may lead to legal blindness.  More specifically, it affects the macula, the portion of the retina which provides central reading vision.

Thus, macular degeneration only affects central vision.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two forms of macular degeneration:  wet and dry.  Dry macular degeneration is usually the more slowly progressive of the two types, leading to slow or insidious blurring or loss of central vision.

The wet form is more aggressive and can cause faster loss of central vision.  The wet form is associated with the presence of abnormal blood vessels growing somewhere within the layers of the retina.

These abnormal blood vessels can leak and bleed.

In contrast is dry macular degeneration.  Again, only the central macula is involved, but the macular tissue slowly degenerates over time causing loss of vision.

While there is treatment for the wet form, there is no approved treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of macular degeneration include blurry central vision and/or distortion.  In some cases, there may be blind spots within your central vision.

The vision loss in both types is progressive.  It is the rate at which vision loss develops which differentiates the wet form from the dry.  Remember, wet macular degeneration causes faster loss of vision compared to dry.

Treatment for Macular Degeneration

There is no treatment for dry macular degeneration.  While AREDS vitamins may be indicated for a small subset of macular degeneration patients, it does not improve the condition or vision.

The mainstay of treatment for wet macular degeneration involves injections into the eye with anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) medications.

These medications (Lucentis, Avastin, Eylea) attack the abnormal blood vessels, preventing additional leakage and bleeding.  Often, there can be improvement in vision.

If you’ve got questions, comments or concerns, please leave a comment and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.

All the best!

 

 

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