Macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in general. It is a medical condition that commonly affects older people and patients often experience loss of vision which is mostly situated in the center of the visual field, the loss of vision occurs when the retina is damaged.
Besides vision loss being the main difficulty patients have to deal with, macular degeneration can also make life even more difficult since patients stop being able to recognize faces, and reading plain text becomes almost impossible.
Types, Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Basically, there are two types of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), these two types are most commonly known as Wet AMD and Dry AMD.
Wet age-related macular degeneration is developed in only 1 out of 10 patients, however, Wet AMD is much more aggressive and can cause severe vision loss over a short period of time – sometimes within a few months.
Dry age-related macular degeneration is the most common form of MD and occurs in 9 out of 10 cases. Dry AMD is much more passive than Wet AMD, as its effects take years to develop and also, some patients of Dry AMD do not experience serious vision loss, when it comes to reading.
The main and most likely causes of experiencing macular degeneration are:
- Smoking (tobacco);
- High-blood pressure (allegedly, inconclusive evidence);
- Background family history of AMD (bigger chances, but not a hereditary condition);
- Sunlight (allegedly, because the sunlight rays (UVB % UVA) can damage the retina.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Take a look at some of the most common symptoms by which you can figure you whether you or someone
you know could have AMD. Some of the main early symptoms of AMD include the loss of vision.
Most likely, patients start seeing straight lines in a wavy or crooked way. After this, most patients experience the development of a “blind spot” in their vision. This blind spot tends to expand more and more over time.
- Blurring of central vision (considered to be the main early symptom);
- The patient would need brighter light to be able to read;
- Experiencing blurred vision (e.g. when reading a book or the newspaper);
- Start to see less brightness in colours;
- Experience difficulty when trying to recognise faces
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is now direct or literal cure for macular degeneration. However, many studies have been conducted which have shown that the progression of the disease can be slowed down by allowing small changes into the patient’s lifestyle, diet, along with taking appropriate supplements.
Of course, all of these changes need to be undertaken along with consultations with the patient’s doctor.
Researchers and scientists are currently investing heavily into finding possible treatments for dry macular degeneration, and are therefore hoping to announce progress soon. However, patients with wet MD have some treatment options. These treatments also do not cure the disease but rather slow down its progress and even help recover vision, in some cases.
The best bet of these treatments for wet MD are to keep the patient’s vision at its best for as long as it is possible.
Treatment Options – Wet Macular Degeneration
Some of the most used and so far most effective options for treating wet macular degeneration are listed below.
- Lucentis® (ranibizumab) – Lucentis was and is the first-ever drug (anti-VEGF) administered for treating wet macular degeneration. Lucentis has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and was shown on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in 2007.
- Eylea® (aflibercept) – Eylea is also a anti-VEGF drug which was developed solely for the purpose of treating wet macular degeneration
- Avastin® (bevacizumab) – Avastin is an anti-VEGF drug which was originally considered for treatment of some forms of cancer. Avastin is commonly only used for treating wet macular degeneration when the patient (for any reason) cannot take in either Lucentis or Eylea.
Other AMD Treatment options
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) treatment – Different from anti-VEGF drug treatments, patients undergoing the PDT treatment continue experiencing vision loss within the first six months. However, their vision starts to stabilise after that time and the eyes doesn’t go on to experience severe vision loss. PDT is rarely used to treat common AMD, and is sometimes used along with anti-VEGF drugs.
- Laser Photocoagulation Treatment – This kind of treatment basically consists of a highly concentrated beam of energy (thermal light) which is used to close up the leaky blood vessels. This treatment is primarily used to deal with vessels which are not under the central area of vision. This treatment has a 50% recurrence rate.