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Macular Degeneration also known as Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a serious vision condition that can result in permanent blindness if not treated early and properly. Due to the severity of this disease our practice encourages regular eye examinations, which involves a dilation. ARMD or simply macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects the macula, a part of the retina in your eye. The retina is a critical component of your vision because it is responsible for transmitting images to the brain. The retina actually send light from the eye itself directly to the brain. The retina is located at the back of the eye and is connected to the brain via the optic nerve. The macula is a critical component of the retina and is located in the center of the retina. The macula changes light into nerve signals that will then travel through the optic nerve to the brain. Macular degeneration affects this central vision often blurring images and fine print. When macular degeneration develops to fruition the central vision becomes distorted and looses ability to function.
Macular Degeneration usually occurs with older people but has been known to strike early in certain cases. Some of the factors that may increase your risk of developing Macular Degeneration include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Over-exposure to sunlight and UV radiation
- Family History
- Poor Diet
To complicate matters even more than the complex issues of understanding the retina there are actually two different types of Macular Degeneration. Each form presents a different set of damage issues. The two forms are simply known as dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.
Dry Macular Degeneration: Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common form of ARMD and causes roughly 90% of all macular degeneration cases. The dry form appears to have minor impact on overall cases of blindness resulting in only 10 percent of all ARMD blindness cases. What happens in dry macular degeneration is that the light sensing material of the macula slowly begins to deteriorate. As these cells begin to gradually break down central vision becomes distorted, thus making fine print and visual focus difficult to see.
Treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration: A large National Eye Institute study demonstrated the benefits of vitamin c, vitamin e and zinc in decreasing the likelihood of the dry type converting to the wet type of macular degeneration.
Wet Macular Degeneration: The wet version of Macular Degeneration is relatively rare. Wet ARMD only impacts about 10 percent of the actual reported cases, but has a larger impact on overall blindness. The chances of going blind from wet macular degeneration far outweigh the chances of going blind from its dry relative. The wet ARMD occurs as a result of blood vessels growing on or toward the macula. The blood vessels are weak and will leak blood under the macula. This leaking of blood causes very fast diminishing vision and damage to the macula. The earliest signs include wavy lines and increase in blurring of the vision
Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration: New injectable medications (Avastin and Lucentis) have been developed that can shrink the new vessels of wet macular degeneration. It is important to treat the eye before permanent scarring has occurred.