elderly woman with possible macular degenerationMacular Degeneration is affecting more of the elderly population and can be very limiting and concerning for those that have it.

It Is the leading cause of sever vision loss in people over the age of 60 and although macular degeneration is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability.

Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition that affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field. There are two forms: “wet” and “dry”.

Central geographic atrophy, the “dry” form of advanced AMD is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of the retina. Currently there is no medical or surgical treatment available.

Neovascular or exudative AMD, the “wet” form of advanced AMD causes vision loss due to abnormal blood vessel growth and is rare; only 10% of patients suffering from macular degeneration have the wet type.

If your elderly parent or loved one starts noticing the below symptoms you should have their eyes looked at.
• The need for brighter light when reading or doing close work
• Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant
• Increasing blurriness of printed words
• A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
• Difficulty recognizing faces
• A gradual increase in the haziness of your central or overall vision
• Crooked central vision
• A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
• Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in case of advanced macular degeneration

What are the causes of Age Related Macular Degeneration?
Age related macular degeneration may be hereditary; meaning it may be passed down from parents to children. If someone in your family has or had the condition you or your elderly parents may be at a higher risk.

Also, if your elderly parents lead an unhealthy lifestyle with smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and being Caucasian are also risk factors for macular degeneration.

Treatments for Macular Degeneration
Anti-angiogenesis drugs. These medications (Avastin, Eyelea, Lucentis, Macugen) block the development of new blood vessels and leakage from the abnormal vessels within the eye that cause wet macular degeneration. This treatment has been a major change in the treatment of this condition and many patients have actually regained vision that was lost.

Vitamins. A large study performed by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, called AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study), showed that for certain individuals, vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper can decrease the risk of vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration.

Laser therapy. High-energy laser light can sometimes be used to destroy actively growing abnormal blood vessels that occur in macular degeneration.
 

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