Bringing Macular Degeneration Into Focus
February is all about Macular Degeneration (MD), a disease that the American Academy of Ophthalmology says affects 10 – 15 million baby boomers (people 60 and older).
Macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degenerations (ARDM)) is a disorder of the macula. The macula is the part of your retina (back of the eye) that controls your central and color vision. If you imagine that your retina is a camcorder, your macula would be what helps us focus the camcorder to ensure we capture quality and details. Without that focus you can still see, but you miss the details.
There are two types of macular degeneration; dry and wet.
- Dry Macular Degeneration (atrophic): As you age the macula gets thinner and small deposits of fat called drusen form under the retina. Over time more drusen forms and your central vision decreases.
- Wet Macular Degeneration (exudative): This is a more serious progression of MD. This forms when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina. The blood vessels can leak blood or other fluids that scar the macula. You can lose your vision much sooner with wet MD.
Is there a cure for macular degeneration?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration, but scientists and doctors are working on several ways to keep the eye disease at bay.
Special Eye Drops
University of Birmingham scientists are testing eye drops that allow patients to treat their macular degeneration at home. This would eliminate the need for visits to the optometrist’s office for injections.
Gene and Stem Cell Therapy
For years researchers have been working on restoring some form of vision loss from macular degeneration and other eye diseases with gene and/or stem cell therapy. Patients who received this trial have gained some semblance of their vision back for almost two years.
How Can I prevent it?
Manage your diet: Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats. One study suggested eating more plant based foods and avoiding dairy.
Avoid risky behaviors: smokers are more likely to develop macular degeneration.
Yearly exams: the most obvious way to prevent macular degeneration is to get an exam with one of our optometrists every year. Our doctors can detect and alert you to early signs of MD.