Macular degeneration is a chronic, progressive disease that gradually destroys central vision due to the deterioration of the macula. The macula is a tiny spot in the center of your retina, or the back of your eye. This tiny macula has millions of light-sensors that allows you to see. There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration; “dry,” most common and with no known treatment, and “wet,” less common, but with more available treatment methods. Dry degeneration describes general tissue deterioration. Wet degeneration is diagnosed when there is blood or fluid present in the retina. Wet AMD can quickly cause significant loss of vision if not treated. Dry degeneration can also cause visual loss, but usually progresses more slowly.
What are some symptoms of macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration usually progresses over many years. Some symptoms can include difficulty recognizing faces, a “blind spot” in the middle of your vision, wavy or distorted vision, and constant blurred vision when wearing glasses. There are no painful symptoms of AMD.
Who is at risk?
There are about 2 million people that currently have AMD and about 200,000 new cases found every year in the US. Smoking, uncontrolled blood pressure, increased body mass index, positive family history, fair eye and hair color, far-sightedness, and advanced age are all risk factors for the disease.
Are there any treatments for macular degeneration?
Unfortunately, there are no good treatment options for the dry type of macular degeneration. This is an ongoing area of research with the hopes that treatments may emerge in the near future.
The wet variety of the disease is often treatable, particularly in patients who present early in the disease process. Treatment modalities are continuously evolving, but over the past decade or so, the mainstay of treatment has been to inject medication inside the eye. These injections have greatly improved outcomes for this condition, often offering visual stabilization in approximately 90% of patients, and actual improvement in vision in about 40%.
If you have been diagnosed with, or are concerned about AMD, make an appointment with Dr. Notaro today. She has been working with AMD patients for over 20 years. Wet macular degeneration cannot be cured but can be slowed down with the use of injections into the eye.