The disease exists in two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration
is by far the most common (roughly 90% of all cases). However, it is
the milder of the two forms, develops gradually, and usually leads to
only minor vision loss. Dry macular degeneration tends to occur when
yellow fatty particles called drusen accumulate in the retina underneath
the macula. This build-up results in thinning and drying-out of the
Wet macular degeneration is less common, but
the vast majority of severe vision loss cases result from this form.
First, abnormal blood vessels form underneath the surface of the retina.
Leakage of blood and other fluids from these blood vessels permanently
damage the outside cells (which detect incoming light). As these cells
are damaged, vision is lost.
The primary cause of macular degeneration remains
unknown. Macular degeneration typically occurs more frequently in the
aging population with patients over 60. Research has shown there are
many other factors such as family history, smoking, hypertension,
obesity, and/or a high cholesterol, high fat diet that may contribute
towards the development of macular degeneration.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration May Include:
Shadows, blurriness, or holes in the center of vision.
Straight lines appear wavy.
Trouble seeing details both up close and at a distance.
Difficulty telling colors apart, especially ones close in hue.
Vision can be slow to come back after bright light exposure.
Treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the dry form
of macular degeneration. Those at high risk should schedule a checkup
with their ophthalmologist at least once every one to two years, to
catch the disease in its infancy. Also, it is thought that dietary
supplementation of antioxidants and zinc may help to slow its
There is also no cure for wet macular degeneration.
There are, however, several treatments designed to combat the disease.
Early detection is very important because once vision is lost there is
no treatment to regain it.
Treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration
Laser photocoagulation: Seals
abnormal blood vessels with a heated laser. This treatment will
sometimes halt the disease, thus saving the remaining vision of a
patient. However, the laser leaves a scar, creating a permanent blind
spot in the patient’s vision. The treatment is only applicable to a
small segment of cases, in which some vision is sacrificed to save
Photodynamic therapy: Employs
a light-activated drug and a “cold” laser. The drug is injected
intravenously. Then the doctor shines the laser on the affected area,
which activates the drug in the targeted tissue and blocks the leaking
blood vessels. This procedure leaves no scar, and may be repeated
several times as necessary.
Anti-angiogenesis drugs: These
inhibit proteins which contribute to abnormal blood vessel growth.
They are known as anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor)
drugs. There are a variety of drugs that can be applicable for this
purpose, some FDA approved, and some off-label (officially approved for a
If you are experiencing any symptoms of macular degeneration, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation.