Age related macular degeneration (ARMD)
Macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula. The macula is a small area of the retina at the back of the eye that allows you to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. When the macula does not function correctly the central vision may be affected by blurriness, dark areas, or distortion. Macular degeneration affects your ability to see near and far and can make some activities such as threading a needle or reading difficult or impossible.
Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina it usually does not affect the eye’s side or peripheral vision. Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. Even in more advanced cases people do continue to have some useful vision and are often able to take care of themselves. There is a large variation in severity of macular degeneration and in some cases the impact on the vision may be minimal.
Types of macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration or atrophic degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the more common type that is caused by aging and thinning of the macula. Visual loss is typically gradual. There is no specific treatment for dry macular degeneration but we do definitely recommend nutritional supplementation.
Wet macular degeneration or exudative
The wet form of macular degeneration accounts for about 10% of all macular degeneration cases. It results from abnormal blood vessels forming and leaking beneath the retina at the back of the eye and causing scarring. Visual loss from this form of macular degeneration can be rapid and severe. Treatment of wet macular degeneration involves laser therapy, PDP Visudyne therapy and anti-VEGF treatments such as Avastin, macugen or lucentis injections.
These treatments may preserve more sight overall and although they are not cures they can restore vision to normal on some occasions. Despite advanced medical treatment many people with macular degeneration still experience some visual loss. For more information on the treatment and diagnosis of macular degeneration please ask for our informative pamphlets when you are in the office or ask your doctor.