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Macular Degeneration is a condition linked with aging, so it is often called Age-Related Macular Degeneration or ARMD. This condition is a leading cause of legal blindness in people over age 60. A person with ARMD can gradually or suddenly lose vision in the central part of the eye, called the macula. ARMD doesn't hurt, so it's important to have regularly scheduled eye exams to determine if you are experiencing vision loss. You should be particularly concerned if you are over age 60, have high blood pressure (hypertension), smoke, or have a family history of ARMD.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
The exact cause of ARMD is not known, but research indicates that the pigment in the macula becomes depleted over time. This maybe caused by free radicals, which are found in high concentration in the macula and can harm cell membranes. Researchers believe that antioxidant compounds found in certain foods (kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, yellow corn, persimmons, tangerines) and ocular vitamins reduce the effect of free radicals on the macula. There are two types of ARMD, called "dry" and "wet." Most people who have ARMD develop the dry form of the disease and will not lose central vision. However, the dry form of macular degeneration can lead to the wet form. Although only about 10% of people with ARMD develop the wet form, they make up the majority of those who experience serious vision loss.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Taking ocular vitamins or eating specific foods cannot reverse the damage caused by ARMD, but it may prevent or slow the progression of ARMD.
2. LASER THERAPY
High energy laser light can sometimes be used to destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels that occur in ARMD.
3. PHOTODYNAMIC LASER THERAPY
A two-step treatment in which a light sensitive drug is injected into the bloodstream, to be absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. The doctor then shines a cold laser into the eye to activate the drug, damaging the abnormal blood vessels.
4. ANTI-ANGIOGENISIS DRUGS
New drugs are being used to slow down or prevent the growth of the abnormal blood vessels within the eye.
5. INTRA-OCULAR INJECTIONS
A drug is injected directly into the eye on a monthly basis. This treatment is helpful for patients with the wet form of ARMD, but the drug is extremely expensive.
6. LOW VISION AIDS
Devices that have special lenses or electronic systems produce enlarged images of nearby objects. They help people who have vision loss from ARMD make the most of their remaining vision.
7. EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENTS
Techniques under investigation include the insertion of a "retinal chip" to restore vision loss.
IS THERE A CURE?
There is no cure, but the disease can be managed. Our practice is experienced in monitoring your eye health and recommending treatment if it is needed. Good eye health care can minimize the damage that ARMD can do to your vision.
WHAT CAN I DO?
1. Come in for your regular eye exams.
2. Contact us if you notice that straight lines appear wavy, it's difficult to distinguish colors, you can't see details
(faces or words in a book) or dark or empty spots block the center of your vision.
3. Eat large amounts of kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, yellow corn, persimmons, and tangerines,
or take ocular vitamins recommended by our office.
4. If you smoke, quit smoking. Speak to your family physician about a smoking cessation program.
5. Cooperate with any treatments that are recommended.