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Eye Diseases - Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

AMD or (age-related macular degeneration) is a debilitating vision loss disease, which is the primary cause of sight loss in the United States for those who are sixty-five and older. The macula is a key part of the retina which provides clear vision for everyday activities like reading and driving vehicles, therefore it is particularly damaging if this function deteriorates. There are two principal forms of macular degeneration, dry macular degeneration as well as wet macular degeneration.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry or non-neovascular macular degeneration occurs when aging macular tissue begins to thin out and when pigmentation begins to build up on the macula. One of the early indications of this process is the appearance of yellowish sediment on the pupils of the eyes caused by deteriorating tissue; this is followed by a gradual loss of central vision.

Wet Macular Degeneration

One out of every ten cases of dry macular degeneration develops into what is known as wet macular degeneration. Wet AMD is an infinitely more serious form of aging-vision degradation as neo-vascularisation, that is to say the development of new blood vessels in the eye takes place, underneath the retina. The result is that seeping blood floods the retinal cells causing them to deteriorate and leads to permanent blind spots, hampering the sufferer’s primary vision. Neovascuralisation may take the form of classic, choroidal neovascuralisation where aggressive new blood vessels develop beneath the retina, causing severe vision loss as a result. On the other hand, another strain of this problem is known as occult choroidal neovascuralisation where blood vessel growth and leakage is less pronounced and therefore severe vision loss represents less of a risk.

What is the appropriate treatment for Macular Degeneration?

There is currently no cure for macular degeneration as surgery is not a viable option for those experiencing it. There are no proven successful treatments for dry macular degeneration with the exception of nutritional supplements. However, with regard to wet macular degeneration, the Federal Drug Authority of the United States has approved the usage of a number of medicinal solutions so as to arrest the symptoms. A medicine called Lucentis has positively contributed to an improvement in the vision of macular degeneration sufferers. This medicine helps by attacking the protein build-up (VGEF) which assists the development of abnormally large blood vessels. Lucentis treatment involves direct injections of the medicine into the patients eye. An additional treatment known as photodynamic therapy (PDT), assists wet macular degeneration sufferers with a two-pronged treatment therapy, combining medicine with laser treatment. The sufferer receives an injection in the arm composed of a medicine called Visudyne. When the drug has entered the retinal blood vessels, the doctor shines a laser into the eye which serves to activate the medicine. The Visudyne then proceeds to destroy the abnormal blood vessels thus reducing the incidence of further damage to the retina.