Have you been experiencing a reduced ability to see near or far?
If so, you may be experiencing macular degeneration. Macular degeneration most often occurs after the age of 60 and is an eye disease that causes vision loss. Ram Eye Care and Retina Center has been offering treatments for macular degeneration as well as an array of eye care and retina services to families in Lake County Florida since 1997. We offer complete comprehensive eye exams for the whole family. At Ram Eye Care and Retina Center, Saving your Site is Our Passion, which is why we utilize premier state of the art equipment to diagnose and treat your conditions.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is an age-related condition when the most sensitive part of the retina, called the macula, starts to break down and lose the ability to create clear visual images. It is also referred to as, Age Related Macular Degeneration, (AMD), or (ARMD). The macula is located in the back of the eye and controls your central vision. It does not affect peripheral vision. It is critical in assisting a person with activities such as reading, driving, and facial recognition. When the macula starts to deteriorate or break down it causes the patient to lose the ability to see clear visual images. It is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 65. Macular Degeneration may affect just one eye and because it is a slow process it can be very hard to detect. However, when both eyes are affected, vision loss may be much more pronounced and occur more quickly.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Dry AMD – Dry AMD accounts for about 90% of all cases of Macular Degeneration. It is slow to progress and is considered to be the early states of the disease. Common causes would be the result of aging where the macular tissue becomes thin, or the patient experiences the deposit of pigment in the macula. In some cases, the patient could experience both conditions. As a result of Dry AMD, yellowish spots called drusen accumulate in the macula. Drusen is the residue or debris from deteriorating macular tissue. There is some evidence to support that nutritional supplements or antioxidant vitamins and multivitamins containing lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of Dry AMD progressing to the more dangerous Wet AMD.
Wet AMD – Wet AMD account for only about 10% of all cases of Macular Degeneration. The results however, can be far more severe and can lead to blindness, and loss of vision. It is much more prevalent in patients over the age of 65. Wet AMD is caused when new blood vessels that grow beneath the retina leak blood and fluid. This is a by-product of the bodies attempt to create new blood vessels to supply more nutrients and oxygen to the macula. Instead, this results in scarring and permanent damage to the light-sensitive cells in the retina which can cause the dark or shadowy spots to appear in the patient’s central vision.
What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
In most cases of Macular Degeneration, the process leads to a slow loss of vision and the patient will not experience any pain or discomfort. Because it is normally a slow process, it’s important that patients, especially those who are older, receive regular retinal examinations. With regularly scheduled exams, the disease can often be detected in it’s early stages, even before symptoms occur.
The symptoms of Macular Degeneration include:
• A reduced ability to see near or far
• Dark or shadowy areas seen within your central field of vision
• Distorted vision
• Difficulty in reading small print
• Straight lines may appear distorted
Who is at a Higher Risk of Contracting Macular Degeneration?
The most common at-risk individuals are those of older age. There is some evidence that would support a gene deficiency could be associated with up to half of all cases that lead to blindness. While older individuals are clearly most susceptible, Caucasians and females are particularly affected. There is growing evidence that smokers are at a much higher risk, as well as people with high blood pressure, are obese, experience over exposure to sunlight and who have high fat diets. The disease may also be caused as a side effect of some drugs.
Unfortunately, while there are no approved treatments for Dry AMD, early detection can make it manageable. While some drugs are currently in clinical trials, the best treatment is a regular schedule of retina exams to insure early detection. There is some evidence to support that certain vitamins and multivitamins can be used to treat the condition. Vitamin C, vitamin E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc Oxide, And Cupric Oxide, (Copper), have been shown to assist in slowing the degeneration of the macula. Adjusting diets to include thicker leafy greens such as spinach also can be helpful.
There are three available treatments for Wet AMD:
• Anti-VEGF Treatment – (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). Eylea, Avastin, Lucentis, and Macugen are the 4 most common anti-VEGF drugs available. Injection of these drugs in the back of the eye can slow the progression of Wet AMD by blocking the growth of new blood vessels and slowing the leakage that leads to vision loss.
• Thermal Laser Treatments – Also referred to as Photocoagulation, this laser treatment cauterizes those blood vessels that cause progression of the disease. There can be side effects in the form of retinal scarring. While not as prevalent as Anti-VEGF, research is on-going to find new methods of laser use that reduce the likelihood of scarring.
• Photodynamic Therapy – (PDT) is a combination of laser and drug treatments. A patient is injected in the arm with a drug called Visudyne. As the drug passes through the retinal blood vessels a laser is used to activate a chemical reaction that works to destroy abnormal blood vessels. This type of treatment can only be utilized in about half of affected patients who possess a specific blood vessel growth pattern.
Why Choose Ram Eye Care and Retina Center
Dr. Ramchander and his staff are ready to provide a level of personal care that you will find unique and refreshing. At Ram Eye Care and Retina Center, we take a personal approach to every patient’s condition, and you will be completely informed throughout your treatment. Call or contact Ram Eye Care and Retina Center today, at either of our convenient locations in The Villages or Leesburg, to schedule your appointment with Dr. Ramchander.