Macular Degeneration Treatment: What You Need to Know
Your eyesight is arguably your most important sense. Your vision impacts your ability to read a book, drive a car, go to work, travel, and enjoy your life. But if you are older, Macular Degeneration can severely affect your vision. There are several macular degeneration treatments available, but their effectiveness is tied to how early your condition is diagnosed. That’s why you should schedule regular eye exams with your eye doctor. Preventing vision problems before they happen is a significant step towards avoiding vision loss from Macular degeneration, or other eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a common cause of permanent blindness in people over the age of 60. It occurs when the light-sensing tissue in the back of your eye, known as the macula, deteriorates, substantially interfering with the center of your vision.
Some forms of macular degeneration can occur when abnormal blood vessels begin growing in your eye, which can leak and damage the macula.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Because macular degeneration often occurs slowly and painlessly, it may take time to notice the effects of the disease. Look for these symptoms if you believe you have the condition.
- Reduced central vision
- Visual distortions, such as when straight lines look curvy
- Impaired depth perception
- Difficulty working or reading
- Issues adjusting to low light conditions
- Decreased intensity of colors (difficulty telling similar hues apart)
- Inability to recognize faces
- Visual hallucinations
The macular degeneration treatment that your Optometrist recommends will vary based on how advanced your condition is.
You can reduce your chances of getting macular degeneration as you age if you adopt healthier habits early. For instance, we recommend that you:
- Stop smoking
- Eat a balanced diet that includes green vegetables and fish
- Avoid packaged foods and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
- Wear sunglasses during the day to block UV light
- Exercise to help avoid obesity
What Macular Degeneration Treatment Exist?
While no complete cure exists for the disease yet, many current treatments can slow down or partially reverse some of its effects. These treatments include:
- Eye injections. Your eye doctor might inject medications that stop new blood vessels from forming in your retina, preventing them from leaking and causing macular degeneration. Lucentis is one of those medications, and works by inhibiting a protein known as a “vascular endothelial growth factor” (VEGF), which stimulates blood vessel growth. Other examples of these drugs include Macugen and Eylea.
- Laser therapy. High-energy laser beams shined into the retina can also destroy abnormal blood vessels. This type of treatment is becoming less common since it sometimes results in small retinal scars that can develop into blind spots.
- Visudyne drug therapy. This is a combination of the two treatments above. It involves an Optometrist injecting Visudyne into your arm, where it passes through your bloodstream. Once it reaches the retina, a laser beam shines into it, activating the drug and destroying the rogue blood vessels. The process itself is almost painless.
- Vitamin supplements. A healthy diet improves your chances of avoiding macular degeneration. Similarly, vitamins and antioxidant supplements, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, copper, beta-carotene, lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids work to slow down vision loss from this condition.
- Vision aids. The FCC has recently approved the use of electronic lenses that digitally magnify the center of your vision, helping the retina to perceive the world more clearly. Because the disease does not affect peripheral vision, many adaptive devices are available to help victims compensate for the better parts of their eyesight.
Which Macular Degeneration Treatment Is Right for You?
We recommend that you make an appointment with Dr. Barry Leonard & Associates to determine which macular degeneration treatment is the right choice for you.
Your eyesight is extremely important, and we want to do everything we can to help you overcome the debilitating effects of macular degeneration.