Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the macula, which is the tissue at the very back of the eye. The macula is right in the center of the retina and allows for very sharp and detailed vision. The two types of macular degeneration are wet and dry.
The condition is painless and gradual. One cause of macular degeneration is aging. Indeed, it’s called age-related macular degeneration by eye doctors. Another cause of macular degeneration might be high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If a patient has wet macular degeneration, tiny blood vessels have started to grow beneath the macula. This is called choroidal neovascularization. Once the blood vessels are in place, they begin to leak and vision starts to blur. A substance called drusen can also develop beneath the retina. If a patient has dry macular degeneration, the cells in the macula that detect light start to degrade. An early symptom of this type of the disease is straight lines that start to look crooked. Most people have dry macular degeneration.
If left untreated, macular degeneration can lead to a loss of central vision. Instead of seeing an entire clock face, for example, the person might just see a blur or black hole in its center.
Our Raleigh optometrists have been offering our patients macular degeneration treatment for years. The important thing about the treatment is that it needs to started early because once part of a patient’s vision is lost it can’t be restored. This is why it’s important for a patient to have regular eye exams. Remember, macular degeneration is painless and patients might be tempted to dismiss problems with their vision instead of visiting our Raleigh optometrists.
One type of macular degeneration treatment is dietary. The ophthalmologist might prescribe supplements of antioxidants like Vitamins A and E as well as minerals like zinc and carotenoids like lutein to stop the macular degeneration from progressing. Folic acid and B complex vitamins might also help stop the progression of macular degeneration or lower the risk of getting it in the first place. This works best with dry macular degeneration.
People with wet macular degenration can benefit from anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medicines. These are drugs that can stop more blood vessels from growing under the macula. These drugs are injected right into the eye. The patient will need to have repeat injections over some months. Doctors might also use lasers or photodynamic therapy to treat wet macular degeneration.