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Can Macular Degeneration Be Treated 2

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Can Macular Degeneration Be Treated?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina — the internal back layer of the eye that receives the light rays of the images we see, and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain.

The macula is responsible for our clear, crisp vision. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to preventing vision loss and maintaining your independence and quality of life.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

There are two main kinds of AMD, dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most commonly diagnosed type, accounting for 90% of cases. Wet AMD, which represents about 10% of AMD cases, usually starts off as dry AMD. Although the wet type is less common, its consequences are far more devastating, resulting in 90% of the legal blindness caused by AMD.

It is possible for dry AMD to advance and cause loss of vision without turning into wet AMD. However, it is also possible for early-stage dry AMD to suddenly change into wet AMD.

AMD tends to occur more frequently with age. About 0.4% of people between 50 and 60 have the disease, while it occurs in 0.7% of people 60 to 70; 2.3% of those 70 to 80, and nearly 12% of people over 80 years old.

In dry macular degeneration, the deterioration of the retina is associated with the formation of small yellow deposits, known as drusen, under the macula. This phenomenon leads to a thinning and death of the retinal cells, causing the macula to lose its function. The amount of central vision loss is directly related to the location and amount of retinal thinning, but generally happens slowly over many years.

As AMD worsens, the light-sensitive cells in your macula further deteriorate and eventually die, causing permanent vision loss.

Wet AMD occurs when new, extremely fragile blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the macula. The pooling of fluid and blood can create a sudden and extreme loss of vision, including visual distortions, blurry vision, and eventually blindness.

senior with amdDry AMD Treatment

While there is currently no treatment for dry AMD, people with significant levels of drusen or vision loss might benefit from taking a certain combination of nutritional supplements.

The most commonly prescribed treatment for dry AMD is nutritional therapy, with a healthy diet high in antioxidants to support the cells of the macula. AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are nutritional supplements that have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of progressing from the mild stage to advanced AMD.

The AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are combinations of a high-dose of daily vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and copper. These nutritional supplements come in a range of commercially available options. They won’t prevent or cure AMD, but they may slow it down.

If you have dry AMD, ask your eye doctor whether these vitamins and minerals could benefit you.

Wet AMD Treatment

Wet AMD occurs when a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) causes an overabundance of leaky new blood vessels to grow in the retina. The body releases the VEGF proteins to combat the impact of AMD, but these new blood vessels can cause more harm than good.

There are 3 treatment options that may slow down or prevent vision loss from wet AMD:

Anti-VEGF Injections

Even if you have already noticed decreased vision, these injections can possibly restore some of your lost sight. They absorb the leaked fluid and blood, and can stop further bleeding and leaking from blood vessels in the back of your eye.

After receiving these injections some patients immediately enjoy clearer vision because the pooling of fluid and blood in the macula has diminished.

The procedure involves the injection of anti-VEGF medicine into your eye with a very small needle. After the treatment, you may need to use antibiotic eye drops to keep your eyes from becoming infected. Anti-VEGF injections usually only work for a short time — weeks or months — so most people receive several such injections over the years.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy is a laser surgery that treats some types of wet AMD, and uses a drug called Visudyne. PDT is a two-step procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s office. First, Visudyne is injected intravenously into the patient’s arm. The drug is then activated by shining a non-thermal laser light into the patient’s eye. The procedure seals off leaking vessels while leaving healthy ones intact, and is considered a major improvement over previous laser treatments.

PDT is usually used as a second treatment along with anti-VEGF injections. The laser surgery will not restore any vision loss, but its effects last longer. Some people will need to repeat the treatments.

Laser Photocoagulation

Until recently, laser photocoagulation was the only available laser treatment to seal leaking blood vessels associated with wet AMD. Nowadays, the procedures above have largely replaced this option. In this procedure, the laser is used to permanently destroy retinal tissue associated with the new blood vessels. This option can be effective in preventing new vessels from growing and leaking, but can also cause unwanted side-effects such as black spots and distorted vision.

Laser photocoagulation is still an important part of the eye doctor’s toolkit, especially to treat advancing wet AMD.

If you have vision loss from wet AMD, ask your eye doctor if either of these treatments can help you.

Visiting your eye doctor regularly and having a comprehensive eye examination can help detect AMD in its early stages. While there is currently no cure for AMD, treatment may slow the disease and keep you from having severe vision loss and may able to restore some loss of sight. Contact our optometric team to find the best treatment plan and ways to manage your AMD.

Our practice serves patients from St. Louis, Byrnes Mill, Cedar Hill, and Imperial, Missouri and surrounding communities.
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Call 314-310-2116
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Can Macular Degeneration Be Prevented 1280

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Can Macular Degeneration Be Prevented?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula—the central part of the retina—that is responsible for central vision, allowing us to see fine details and color. It enables us to watch TV, read, drive, recognize faces, and so much more.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 60. An estimated 11 million people in the United States and 1.4 million people in Canada have some form of macular degeneration.

Currently, there is no cure for this eye condition. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of getting the disease and prevent vision loss.

Ways to Prevent Macular Degeneration

There are certain measures you can take to prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration. These include eating healthy foods, not smoking, eating fish or taking omega 3 supplements, and exercising regularly. Below is a more detailed list of ways to help prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration.

Stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, one of the best ways to prevent AMD is to stop smoking. Smoking has been shown to be a major risk factor for developing macular degeneration.

  • A University of Manchester study found that smokers are up to 4x more likely than non-smokers to suffer from macular degeneration.
  • In a Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary study, current and past smokers had a 1.9- and 1.7-fold risk of AMD compared with non-smokers.

Eat greens

To help prevent macular degeneration, eat plenty of dark, leafy greens. Researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary reported that people who consumed the most vegetables rich in carotenoids had a 43% lower risk of AMD than those who ate these foods the least.

Carotenoid-rich vegetables include dark, leafy greens, especially collard greens, kale and raw spinach.

Eat more fish

Studies have also shown that eating fish helps prevent macular degeneration.

  • Researchers at the University of Sydney found that study participants (aged 49 and older) who ate fish at least once a week were 40% less likely to have the early-stage AMD compared with those who reported eating fish less than once a month or not at all. Those who ate fish at least 3x a week were less likely to have late-stage AMD.
  • Similar findings were found by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Their study showed that senior men who had more than two servings of fish weekly were 45% less likely to have AMD than those who ate fish less than one serving per week.

Consider taking an AREDS nutritional supplement

AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are nutritional supplements that have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of AMD progression.

The AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are combinations of a high dose of daily vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and E, copper, lutein, zinc and zeaxanthin.

Control your blood pressure and cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in blood vessels and prevent the blood flow essential for maintaining healthy eye tissue. Controlling your cholesterol can protect you from developing macular degeneration.

Furthermore, blood pressure control may be an important factor in AMD prevention. The Framingham Heart and Eye Studies and Beaver Dam Eye Study conducted a study that indicated a significant link between high blood pressure and the development of advanced, potentially blinding forms of macular degeneration.

Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight

Regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.

According to a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found that people who led an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to have AMD develop during the follow-up period.

Undergo routine eye exams

Lastly, have your eyes checked regularly. By performing a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor can help catch AMD early. The earlier macular degeneration is diagnosed, the sooner you can start a treatment plan that may slow the disease and keep you from developing severe vision loss. In some cases, treatment can restore some lost vision. Contact our optometric team to find the best treatment plan and learn about steps you can take to manage your AMD.

Our practice serves patients from St. Louis, Byrnes Mill, Cedar Hill, and Imperial, Missouri and surrounding communities.
Request An Appointment
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Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration 2

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What are the Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration?

An estimated 11 million people in the United States have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 50. Unfortunately, this number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that many people experience as they age. It affects the macula — an area of the retina that is responsible for clear central vision. To understand the importance of the macula, consider that whatever you are looking at, be it your child’s face, the television screen, or an actor on a stage, the image is focused on the macula.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two main forms of macular degeneration; dry and wet.

Dry macular degeneration is the more common form and can affect one or both eyes. If only one eye is affected, you may not notice changes in your vision as your good eye may compensate for the weak one. Because the condition doesn’t affect side (peripheral) vision, it rarely causes total blindness.

Dry AMD can progress to wet (neovascular) macular degeneration, which is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak blood or fluid into the bottom of the retina. The wet type is more likely to cause a sudden change in vision, typically resulting in serious vision loss.

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

No one knows exactly what causes dry macular degeneration, but genetics and environmental factors play a prominent role in its development.

The risk factors for AMD include:

  • Age – it typically develops in those over 50 years of age
  • Gender – this disease affects more women than men
  • Family history and genetics – studies show that certain genes raise the risk of developing of macular degeneration
  • Race – AMD is more common in Caucasians
  • Overexposure to UV light
  • Smoke – smoking or regularly being exposed to smoke
  • Obesity – studies suggest that e a body mass index over 30 can more than double your chances of age-related macular degeneration
  • Cardiovascular disease – diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels put you at a higher risk of macular degeneration

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

While you may not be aware of vision loss in the early stages of AMD, your eye doctor can detect the signs during a comprehensive eye exam and take certain measures to keep it from progressing. This is why it’s critical to undergo regular eye exams to verify that your eye health and vision are in check.

Symptoms

In its more advanced stages, macular degeneration can cause various visual symptoms that can affect daily life. These include:

Decreased visual acuity: Vision may become distorted, hazy or gray, and you may notice a dark or blind spot in the center. This can make it challenging to read, watch TV, and recognize faces, among other things.

Reduced contrast sensitivity: You may struggle to see textures or subtle changes in your environment, such as a flight of stairs. You may also have difficulty distinguishing between two colors of a similar hue when placed side by side.

Sensitivity to light and glare: Many people with macular degeneration develop sensitivity to light and glare, making it difficult for your eyes to adjust when driving or when moving from a well-lit room to a darker one. Bright sunlight streaming in through a window may cause everything outside the glare to “black out.”

Decreased depth perception: Depth perception refers to seeing things in three dimensions (including length, width and depth), and judging how far away an object is situated. A decrease in this visual skill makes it difficult to drive and navigate streets.

Tips for Preventing Macular Degeneration

You can reduce your risk of the disease by:

  • Quitting or reducing smoking, if you smoke
  • Eating a healthy diet and consuming certain vitamins
  • Wearing UV-protective sunglasses and a hat with a brim
  • Managing existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension

By getting an early diagnosis and adopting the steps above, you can slow the disease’s progression. Therefore, it’s important to watch for the warning signs and make sure to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams with our optometric team. At Rosen Optometry Inc. we stay abreast on all of the latest treatment options. If you have AMD, we will discuss the various ways and strategies to preserve your vision and eye health so you can live your best life.

Our practice serves patients from St. Louis, Byrnes Mill, Cedar Hill, and Imperial, Missouri and surrounding communities.
Request An Appointment
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