what is macular degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is a little-understood eye disease caused by deterioration of the central portion of the retina. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, the disease affects more Americans than cataracts and glaucoma combined. Simply, the retina is the inside portion of the eye that receives light and sends these images to the optic nerve where images are then sent to the brain to be translated into what we know as “sight.” When central retinal cells (also known as the “macula”) deteriorate, they are unable to transfer light to the optic nerve and central vision deteriorates. Patients with macular degeneration lose central vision that may result in the inability to read, drive, watch television, or see objects in fine detail.
What are the most common types of macular degeneration?
There are two major types of Macular Degeneration: “Dry” and “Wet” Macular Degeneration. The “Dry” form of Macular Degeneration is characterized by a gradual loss of vision caused by the gradual aging of the Macula which is the part of the retina that can potentially have 20/20 Vision. In the “Wet” form of Macular Degeneration, leakage of fluid and blood in the Macula can destroy clear central vision. If caught in time, vision can often be restored for “Wet Macular Degeneration” patients to excellent levels with medication and sometimes laser therapy.
The most common macular diseases are Dry Macular Degeneration, Wet Macular Degeneration, Vitreomacular Traction, Macular Holes, Diabetic Macular Edema, and Ischemic Diabetic Maculopathy. The Macula is the very small central part of the Retina that can see 20/20 or better. It is the thinnest and most metabolically active part of the Retina. When the Macula is injured, the quality and level of Visual Acuity drops. Macular diseases need to be distinguished from other common causes of decreased vision such as cataracts.
can you treat macular degeneration?
In the recent past most patients with Wet Macular Degeneration became legally blind. Now many patients with Wet Macular Degeneration are effectively treated with injection of bevacizumab inside the eye, which causes bleeding or leaky blood vessels to regress and heal. Sometimes the injections are needed to control the leakage and bleeding.
To date, there is no cure, although research, albeit suffering under limited budget constraints, is advancing to learning more about the disease.
The National Eye Institute has done much to enhance the cause of healthy vision, including the following pioneering advances:
- NEI-supported scientists are determining whether transplanting healthy cells into the macula might lead to better ision for people with blinding diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.
- Researchers are exploring the effects that gene-based treatment strategies may have on slowing some forms of retinal degeneration.
Patients with macular degeneration should check the vision in each eye every day with a grid to make sure vision is not deteriorating. Dr. Sondheimer will give you a grid when you see him for an examination. Patients with macular degeneration should use vitamins for their vision. Experienced ophthalmologist Dr. Sondheimer will recommend the best vitamin therapy for you.
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If you would like more information about macular degeneration, contact one of our North Suburban Chicago offices today! Call 847-677-2794 to schedule a consultation with top Chicago ophthalmologist Dr. Stuart Sondheimer.