Macular degeneration can destroy your quality of life by impairing your ability to read, drive, and even recognize faces. Even the simplest tasks may become difficult with this impairment to your central vision. While age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic condition without a cure, the eye care professionals at New Vision Eye Center can help you manage and often times improve your vision with the latest macular degeneration treatments available. While many people think age-related macular degeneration (AMD) always leads to to complete blindness, it does not have to. In fact, most people that seek treatment are able to retain side or peripheral vision.
What is Macular Degeneration?
AMD destroys central vision by damaging the macula, a small area at the back of the eye. The macula provides us with the ability to see color and fine detail. As a result of degeneration, AMD makes it increasingly difficult to perform simple vision tasks normally taken for granted. Watching television, cooking, and other daily activities become more and more challenging.
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Two types of AMD exist: wet and dry. Dry AMD is the most common. This type develops slowly and usually doesn't cause severe vision loss. With dry AMD, the cells and blood vessels beneath the macula break down and cause deposits in the back of the eye called "drusen." These deposits damage the macula and its ability to send signals to the brain. Vision gradually becomes dimmer or blurrier.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Wet AMD is less common, but far more aggressive than dry AMD. Wet AMD can cause permanent damage to the macula over months, or even weeks. The condition often develops in individuals who are already suffering from dry AMD. Abnormal, fragile blood vessels grow in the back of the eye. These blood vessels leak, causing the macula to break down. The macula is also moved out of its normal position at the back of the eye, creating a distortion for your central vision.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
The rate of development and the severity of wet and dry AMD can differ greatly. The symptoms, however, can be similar. Signs of AMD may include:
Central vision becoming dim, fuzzy, or less sharp.
More light required for reading.
Difficulty seeing people's faces clearly.
Objects appear distorted or smaller than they really are.
The development of a new blank or blind spot in your central field of vision.
Increased loss of central vision.
Straight lines appear wavy or curved (usually the first symptom of wet AMD).
While the impact of AMD depends on your lifestyle and the degree of vision loss, getting macular degeneration treatment can improve even the worst cases. AMD does not have to lead to complete blindness, and most people can retain side peripheral vision. Without macular degeneration treatment, however, AMG has a devastating effect on the aging population. Daily lifestyle tasks, once easily handled, become increasingly challenging. The ability to drive, for instance, the ability to negotiate stairs or other activities requiring clear depth perception, and the ability to tolerate changes in light intensity, are all compromised with AMD.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, or you're in need of an eye exam, please contact our world-class eye care sm office today at 772-257-8700.
Who Does Macular Degeneration Affect?
The primary risk factor for AMD is advancing age, with incidence steadily increasing after 50 years of age with a greater increase in those more than 75 years old. Family history also appears to be associated with AMD, as 10 to 20 percent of patients with AMD have a close relative who has experienced AMD-related vision loss. AMD appears to be more prevalent in females, Caucasians, and in individuals with blue eyes, perhaps because they do not benefit from the protection that darker pigmentation provides to the retina. Other risk factors that may be implicated in the development of AMD include excessive exposure to ultraviolet light (UV); cigarette smoking; a diet deficient in vitamins A, C, and E; and high blood pressure.
How to Avoid or Slow Progression of Macular Degeneration
There is no substitute for early detection. Many people give reasons for not having their eyes examined regularly, namely that they don't believe they have a vision problem. What most people do not realize is that AMD usually develops without affecting vision until it has progressed to such a state that treatment options are quite limited.
The following are ways to avoid the onset and/or the progression of macular degeneration:
Have annual eye exams. Eye exams may help determine whether you are at risk for developing AMD or, if you have AMD, may detect it early.
If it is treatable, early detection may help reduce or delay any loss of vision.
Do not smoke. People who smoke are more likely to develop AMD than those who do not smoke.
Eat plenty of fruits and nuts, and leafy green vegetables. Recent studies show that eating regular servings of fruits and nuts can reduce your chances of getting AMD.
People with AMD should check their vision daily or as often as the doctor recommends, using an Amsler grid. If any of the lines on the grid change or begin to appear wavy and curved, a doctor should be called immediately.
Protect your eyes from the sun.
How Is Macular Degeneration Treated?
Lucentis is an FDA-approved treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). LUCENTIS is an injection given into the eye. Before you get your LUCENTIS injection, your eye will be prepped - or cleaned thoroughly - to help you avoid eye infections. Then, your eye will be numbed to limit any discomfort you might feel. Many people who get injections for wet AMD feel some pressure on their eye. Most of the time this pressure is all you will feel. After your retina specialist gives you the injection, the pressure should go away.
What could LUCENTIS mean for you?
You may be able to improve or maintain your vision and keep doing the simple things you enjoy. Remember, wet AMD is a chronic condition and there is no cure, but it can be managed with regular treatment with LUCENTIS.
Who is LUCENTIS for?
LUCENTIS® (ranibizumab injection) is a prescription medicine for the treatment of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
What important safety information should you know about LUCENTIS?
Like any prescription medication, LUCENTIS is not for everyone. You should not use LUCENTIS if you have an infection in or around the eye. Like other injections given into the eye, serious eye infection (endophthalmitis) and detached retina have occurred with LUCENTIS. Increases in eye pressure have been seen within 1 hour of an injection. Your eye doctor should monitor your eye pressure and eye health during the week after the injection. If your eye becomes red, sensitive to light, painful, or has a change in vision, you should seek immediate care from your eye doctor. Although uncommon, conditions associated with eye- and non-eye-related blood clots (arterial thromboembolic events) may occur.
Serious side effects related to the injection procedure were rare. These included serious eye infection, detached retina, and cataract. Other uncommon serious side effects included inflammation inside the eye and increased eye pressure.
The most common eye-related side effects were red eye, eye pain, small specks in vision, the feeling that something is in your eye, and increased tears. The most common non-eye-related side effects were nose and throat infection, headache, and respiratory and urinary tract infections. LUCENTIS is for prescription use only. Individual results with LUCENTIS may vary. More information is available at www.lucentis.com.
Avastin as Macular Degeneration Treatment
Avastin is the full-length antibody from which Lucentis is derived. It has many of the same properties and effects as Lucentis. Although it has not undergone rigorous clinical trials to prove its safety and efficacy, it has been used "off-label" to treat wet macular degeneration and numerous other conditions such as vein occlusions, diabetic retinopathy, neovascular glaucoma, and others. Medicare has approved payment for its use in wet macular degeneration, and its cost is significantly less than that of Lucentis.
Surgery as Macular Degeneration Treatment
Laser photocoagulation is an outpatient surgical procedure where laser energy is applied to the retina to seal leaking blood vessels and reduce the growth of these blood vessels. This procedure has been shown to slow the progression of central vision loss in patients with AMD.
Test Your Vision with the Amsler Grid.
Here's how to use the graph below:
Wear your reading glasses, if you normally use them, and sit about 14 inches away from the screen.
Focus on the dark dot in the center of the grid.
While looking at this dot, you still should be aware of the lines of the grid. If you notice any blurred, wavy or missing lines, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.