Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration is one of the most common causes of loss of vision over the age of 60. It involves aging changes of the macula, in the center of your retina. The macula is like the film of a camera that takes the picture and sends the message to the brain. The Macula is where we see our 20/20 central vision. Degenerative changes progress usually very slowly over years and decades, slowly taking away some of our central vision. There are two main types: Dry AMD is far more common, involving about 90% of people who have macular degeneration. This is the milder form of the disease, involving thinning of the retina and formation of degenerative changes causing accumulation of deposits called Drusen. Drusen a white/yellowish deposit in the retina from breakdown of the normal retina. This degeneration is caused by aging. Smoking is a definite risk factor and possibly Hypertension and Hypercholesterolemia. This is generally followed with observation, dilating the eye every 6 to 12 months depending on it's severity.

Wet AMD is the more severe, advanced type of macular degeneration. This involves abnormal blood vessels growing and bleeding under the macula, of the retina. Large amounts of vision can be lost over short periods with progression of the disease. Permanent scarring of the retina can occur. It must be treated aggressively, usually with injections of medicines that cause regression of the abnormal blood vessels. These injections can be monthly for years to prevent severe loss of vision. Additionally, sometimes laser is used also.

Patient with Dry Macular degeneration should be followed every 6-12 months. Wet macular degeneration must be followed much more closely, because of its aggressive nature.

Home TreatmentGreen Leafy vegetables if approved by primary care physician(intake of Vitamin K decreases the effectiveness of Warfarin). fish/fish oils containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids may slow down the progression of the disease. Low Vision aids when severe loss of central vision occurs. Smoking cessation, HTN, and cholesterol better control.