What is it?
Macular degeneration is a medical condition of the eye that affects the macula present in the retina resulting in blurred or reduced central vision as the tissue in the macula become thin and breaks down. It usually affects people who are over 50 years old but it does not affect the peripheral vision.
It is necessary to take proper treatment methods to delay the loss of vision. This condition may affect one eye and then spread to the other one slowly, resulting in difficulty to read, drive etc.
Macular Degeneration Types
There are two types of macular degeneration:
- Dry Macular Degeneration is more common where the fat and Drusen, a protein, gets accumulated under the retina. When drusen become large in size or numerous, it reduces the oxygen entering the eye and covers the macula, in turn, reducing the vision.
- Wet Macular Degeneration is a critical condition as the blood vessels start forming in the eye under the macula that may leak blood and other fluids into the eye causing severe damage.
- Genetics and family history
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Some medications such as aspirin, nitroglycerin etc.
- Diet and alcohol
The symptoms for macular degeneration occurs slowly and are painless, some of the known symptoms are
- Change in quality of vision such as bending of straight lines
- Reduced central vision in one or both the eyes
- Intensity of light may reduce
- Difficulty in adapting to dim lighting
- Difficulty reading due to the blurring of words
- Recognizing faces becomes difficult
- In some cases, the perception of color differs
- Examination of the retina. This is done by using eye drops to dilate the eyes, using a special instrument, the doctor examines for drusen deposits.
- Fluorescein Angiography. In this procedure, a colored dye is inserted in the vein of your arm. Photos are taken while the dye passes through blood vessels to the eyes to determine retinal abnormality.
- Indocyanine Green Angiography is done to confirm and specify the type of macular degeneration.
- Optical Coherence Tomography shows the magnified 3D image of the retina and identifies thinning, thickening or swelling of the retina caused by leaking of blood vessels.
There is no permanent cure for macular degeneration. However, there are some treatment options available to delay the vision impairment shown below,
- Laser Therapy is done in order to destroy the abnormal blood vessels that may be actively growing using a high-energy laser beam.
- Low visions aids that include a special lens that will help magnify nearby objects.
- Low vision rehabilitation specialists will help you adapt to your peripheral vision as macular degeneration only affects the central vision.
- Intake of vitamin supplements that include vitamin C and E along with beta-carotene, zinc, and copper helps to slow down the effects of this disease.
- Telescopic lens implant surgery is suggested to those with advanced macular degeneration for a better view of nearby and distant objects but it has a narrow field of vision.