Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a progressive disease that can cause a loss of central vision. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although macular degeneration is almost never totally blinding, it can be a source of significant visual disability. There are two types of AMD: wet (neovascular/exudative) and dry (non-neovascular). Roughly 90% of patients with AMD experience the dry form of the disease. Dry AMD is caused when yellow deposits called drusen form in the macula, leading to loss of vision. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow from beneath the retina, leaking blood and tissue fluids. Unless stopped, the process can result in severe loss of sight.

Macular Degeneration Treatments

There are several methods of treatment for both types of macular degeneration. Treatment is not curative yet, but can limit progression and loss of vision. Nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes may help. Adding more antioxidants and zinc to your diet may prevent further loss of vision caused by wet or dry AMD. Niswander Eye Center offers the latest treatment options including:

  • Nutritional Supplements: Studies have shown that patients at a high risk for developing AMD lower their chances by roughly 25% with an increased intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and zinc.
  • Laser Treatment: This is used to treat wet AMD in some patients. This is a brief outpatient procedure that uses a focused beam of light to slow or stop the growth of blood vessels causing damage to the macula.
  • Medication: Your doctor may recommend you receive injections of medicines that block the growth of blood vessels. The injections target the chemical that’s critical to abnormal blood vessel growth in your body, which is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Macular Degeneration Prevention

Like many eye diseases, vision impairment can often be prevented by early detection. It’s important to regularly schedule eye exams, and if diagnosed with macular degeneration, return to Niswander Eye Center for periodic checkups. Daily use of the Amsler Grid will also help you stay on top of your AMD. If you start to see distorted or wavy lines in the grid, contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.

There are several known risk factors that may lead to an increased chance of macular degeneration. You should not smoke; avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight; and maintain a healthy diet, especially if you’re a diabetic. Patients genetically predisposed to macular degeneration should also regularly schedule exams to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.