What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in Americans over the age of 65. Macular degeneration causes a deterioration or breakdown of the macula, the small area of the retina that allows one to see fine details clearly. When the macula deteriorates, the central vision becomes blurred, hindering the ability to read or drive. This disease is not painful and many people who are diagnosed, especially in the early stages, are able to lead productive lives.
People with a family history of macular degeneration are at greater risk of developing the disease. Macular degeneration is divided into two forms. The “dry” form is the most common and accounts for about 90 percent of all macular degeneration cases. The “wet” form, also called the exudative or neovascular form, accounts for the other 10 percent. It is the more severe form and can be associated with more rapid and severe vision loss.
What causes macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the result of aging and genetics. Smoking, obesity and gender may also contribute to the disease. Dry macular degeneration is usually gradual in its onset and causes thinning and atrophy of the macular tissues.
Wet macular degeneration develops when new blood vessels grow underneath the surface of the retina. These new vessels can bleed or leak fluid, resulting in a blur of the central vision. Vision loss may occur slowly or quickly. Straight lines that appear wavy or new blind spots in vision may be an early indication of wet macular degeneration. For those experiencing these vision changes, it is important to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists immediately.
Can macular degeneration be treated?
For those diagnosed with macular degeneration, the good news is that there are now medications available to slow vision loss and help maintain an active lifestyle. Treatment for wet macular degeneration, the more serious form of this disease, has undergone major advancements. For most people, treatment now entails monthly injections of medications called anti-vascular endothelial growth factors, or “anti-VEGF” drugs. Avastin®, Lucentis®, and Eylea® are the commonly used medications. Most patients who adhere to a monthly schedule can stabilize their vision and many can experience an improvement in vision.
Schedule your eye exam today
Call the Chesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center at 1-877-DR4-2020 to schedule your eye exam or click here to request an appointment.