Macular degeneration is a disease that affects millions of people. It is the largest cause of vision loss in folks older than 50 years of age in the western world. Simply put, macular degeneration means that the center part (macula) of the back of the eye is getting old. This degenerative process can comprise a number of abnormal findings, all of which can be detected by a retina specialist. Visual loss from these abnormalities can range from very mild to
extremely severe. In general, there are two varieties of macular degeneration. These are referred to as WET and DRY degeneration. Symptoms are similar for both types and include blurred vision, wavy vision, or blank spots in vision.
Dry disease is more prevalent and may take on many forms. Vision may range from very good to very poor. To date, there is no proven treatment for dry degeneration, but consistent followup with a retina specialist is needed to measure disease progression.
Wet macular degeneration is the second major variety of disease. It is far less common than its dry counterpart, but it is generally felt to have a more significant effect on visual acuity. By labeling the disease “wet”, it is implied that abnormal blood or fluid has seeped into the back of the eye. The good news is that there is treatment that can be offered for wet disease, if diagnosed early on. Treatment generally consists of depositing medicine into the eye– this is an office procedure that can be performed by a retina specialist. Laser treatments can also be given in an office setting.