What Is Macular Degeneration?
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry AMD is by far the more common type, and it occurs when the retina begins to become thin and deteriorate. The damaged tissues then form yellow deposits called drusen that gather on the macula. As more drusen accumulate, the retinal cells break down even further in a vicious cycle.
In the advanced stages, dry macular degeneration may lead to more serious wet AMD, or the condition can develop on its own. This form of macular degeneration results when irregular blood vessels grow beneath the retina. These blood vessels will leak blood into the eye, swelling the macula and preventing it from functioning properly.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration causes slow, progressive vision deterioration. Many patients may experience:
- Difficulty distinguishing detail
- Dark spots in front of their eyes
- Diminished colors
- Blurred vision
Wet AMD symptoms are quite similar although they may appear suddenly and progress more rapidly. Patients with wet macular degeneration may also find that straight lines and edges look wavy.
Advanced Diagnostic Tools
With early diagnosis, our doctors can often prevent the progression of AMD and permanent vision damage. For this reason, we offer several state-of-the-art diagnostic tests for both wet and dry macular degeneration. They include:
- Macular Integrity Assessment (MAIA™): This test uses a scanning laser opthalmascope to gain clear, precise images of the retina. Not only does this device allow our doctors to monitor the development of your condition, it also enables them to determine the effectiveness of our treatment and develop an alternative treatment method, if necessary.
- Indocyanine Green (ICG) Angiography: Your doctor will inject a green dye into a vein in your arm or hand. As this dye circulates through your veins, it will eventually pass through the blood vessels in your eyes. Then your doctor will take a series of pictures to detect any leaking capillaries.
- Intravenous Fluorescein (IVFA) Angiography: This type of angiography is very similar to ICG angiography, and our doctors typically perform both at the same time. However, with IVFA tests, the physician will use a sodium fluorescein injection. This solution will glow in photographs, indicating areas where blood is leaking into your eye.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT): Using specialized imaging technology, your doctor will examine the thickness of your retina.
Following AMD diagnosis, your doctor will develop your personalized treatment plan. Typically, we treat dry macular degeneration with nutrition supplements and dietary changes. Omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, zinc, vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients can slow the progression of dry AMD and prevent the wet form from developing. If you already have wet AMD, angiogenesis modulator injection therapy is the most common treatment option followed by laser therapy. With injection therapy, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) inhibitors are used to treat wet AMD successfully. These drugs include Avastin®, Lucentis®, and Eylea®. We will use a powerful laser to cauterize leaking blood vessels. We proudly utilize an advanced micro pulse laser or a photodynamic laser, which prevents scarring and damage to the photoreceptors on the retina.
Although a macular degeneration diagnosis can be frightening, with proper care and the guidance of an experienced ophthalmologist, you can enjoy good vision for years to come.
Contact Us Today
Scheduling routine eye exams is the best way to protect your vision. Contact EyeCare 20/20 Retina & Vision Center today and make your appointment.