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What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration, also known as Age-related Macular Degeneration 9AMD is a painless eye condition that may lead to vision loss. It is an eye disease that is considered a leading cause of loss of vision in people over 60 years of age, often more than glaucoma and cataract. At the present moment, it is considered to be an incurable disease.
The macula is a small portion located in the centre of the retina, in the back of the human eye. It is caused when the macula deteriorates, leading to loss of the central vision. Central vision refers to the picture you get when you are looking straight ahead of yourself. On the other hand, peripheral vision is the picture that can be seen from the side of the eye when you are looking straight ahead of yourself.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration is of two types:-
Dry: Dry macular degeneration happens when the minute yellow deposits develop under the macula. These deposits are known as the drusen. About 85 to 90 percent of people who have been diagnosed to be suffering from the disease have dry macular degeneration.
Wet: The remaining 10 to 15 percent of the population with the disease tend to have wet macular degeneration. In wet AMD, blood vessels tend to develop under the macula and the retina. The development in these blood vessels is abnormal and affects the vision of the individual.
However, it must be noted that an individual can develop both dry and wet types of AMD. The disease may impact either one or both the eyes, and the progression may be slow or rapid. The majority of the cases see the advances in the disease without it turning into wet AMD. If the disease is detected early and treatment is started, the disease may not develop into an advanced form.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
It is considered to be an incurable and progressive eye condition. This means that with time, the condition is likely to get serious. As far as this eye condition is concerned, problems in vision are not noticeable in the early stages of AMD. Also, changes may occur in both eyes simultaneously, but even such changes may not be easily noticeable. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of macular degeneration.
Symptoms of both wet and dry macular degeneration vary with a few common symptoms. It has been observed that wet macular degeneration is more rapidly progressive as compared to dry macular degeneration.
Some symptoms of dry macular degeneration are:-
- Reduced central vision
- Distorted straight lines in the field of vision
- Need to have more light or illumination in the room
- Difficulty in adapting to low illuminated areas
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty in face recognition
- Damages in the retina
Some symptoms of wet macular degeneration are:-
- Blurry spot in the field of vision
- Hazy vision
- A dark spot in the centre of the vision caused a result of bleeding blood vessels or fluid leakage
- Rapidly worsening symptoms
Some common symptoms in wet and dry macular vision include reduction in central vision and distorted visuals.
Macular Degeneration Risk Factors
Certain factors tend to increase the risk of developing AMD. These factors include:-
- People above 55 years of age are at a higher risk
- Comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease
- Overweight individuals
- Individuals with high cholesterol
Macular Degeneration Diagnosis
People are advised to have regular eye check-ups even if their vision is perfectly normal. However, in case of any vision changes, you must visit your eye specialist immediately. Your doctor may conduct certain tests to diagnose the disease.
Very common practice includes dilating the eyes by using eye drops. The doctor then checks for any signs of blood, yellow deposits, or fluids at the back of the eye. Some other tests to diagnose AMD are Amsler Grid Test, Fluorescein angiography, Indocyanine green angiography, and Optical Coherence Tomography.
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
Treatment depends on the type of AMD diagnosed in the patient. There is no verified treatment when it comes to Dry Macular Degeneration. However, certain vision aids are given to the patient to help reduce the impact of the disease.
On the other hand, Wet Macular Degeneration is treated using injections and light treatment known as “photodynamic therapy” to stop the disease from getting worse. The eye injections are given directly to the eye over regular intervals.
Macular Degeneration is a disease with no permanent cure, and by the time you realise it, the disease may have progressed to serious levels. Therefore, it is essential to get your eye check-up done regularly to avoid any unwanted medical issues in the future. Dr Parth Shah is an experienced paediatric ophthalmologist in Canberra. Dr Shah has specialised expertise in treating common and complex eye problems and uses an evidence-based approach in treating his patients. He is determined to provide the best outcome for all his patients by using the best technology in treatments and is specially trained to perform surgery for all ages.