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Macular Degeneration affects approximately 25% of individuals over 50 years of age. This degenerative condition causes deterioration in the central retina (macula) and affects the central vision, leaving peripheral vision intact. The macula is the only part of the retina capable of seeing fine detail. As a result, normal daily activities such as reading and driving are affected by this disease. Total blindness rarely occurs from macular degeneration. Although the exact cause of macular degeneration is not known, risk factors include advancing age, family history, exposure to UV light, and smoking. Nutritional factors may also play a role. (Decreased vitamin B, E, zinc, and/or Magnesium intake).
The two forms of macular degeneration are dry and wet, with 90% of cases being dry.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms:
• Straight lines appear wavy, crooked or disconnected
• Dark or blank areas appear in center of vision
An Amsler grid is very useful in monitoring your vision for macular degeneration.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is characterized by a slow deterioration in vision. Drusen are the clinical hallmark of the dry form of macular degeneration. These are metabolic by-products (accumulated retinal waste) that are deposited in the central retina, causing the retina to become thinner. Because there is no leakage, this form is considered “dry”. Patients with dry macular degeneration should be monitored very closely for conversion to the wet form.
Wet Macular Degeneration
The wet form of macular degeneration tends to be more visually aggressive. Wet macular degeneration occurs when new blood vessels grow beneath the oxygen-deprived retina. These new vessels are very fragile and leaky, bringing damage to the surrounding tissue and causing the retina to lift up. When this happens the central vision becomes distorted.
Treatment for wet macular degeneration is aimed towards sealing the leaking or bleeding blood vessels. These treatments include Lucentis, Avastin, Macugen, and laser.
Recommendations for Macular degeneration patients:
1. Monitor your vision weekly with the amsler grid. This grid aids in early detection of changes that may require treatment. Report any changes in its appearance to your doctor immediately.
2. Take our Eye Support Nutritional Supplement or a multi-vitamin.
3. Wear sunglasses with an ultraviolet (U.V.) filter to protect the eyes from the damaging rays of the sun.
4. Do not smoke.