Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that affects over 10 million Americans.
Macular degeneration is the result of a deterioration of the central portion of the retina. The retina records the images we see and sends these images to the brain. The retina's central portion, referred to as the macula, focuses the central vision of the eye.
The macula is responsible for controlling your ability to read, drive a car, and see colors and details.
There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Almost all cases of macular degeneration are dry, accounting for approximately 90% of diagnoses.
With the dry type of macular degeneration, the retina deteriorates with the formation of small yellow deposits under the macula. Eventually, the macula begins to thin and dry out and the macula slowly loses its function. Central vision loss is possible and usually related to the location and amount of retinal thinning.
The wet type of macular degeneration involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina and macula. These blood vessels eventually bleed and leak fluid. This leakage causes the macula to bulge out, which can distort or destroy your central vision. Vision loss is more rapid and severe with the wet type of macular degeneration.
For the dry form of the macular degeneration, the AREDS study (a large, 10 year, placebo controlled trial) showed that taking certain antioxidant vitamins and Zinc can slow the progress of the disease. A diet rich in antioxidants may also be helpful. In addition, smoking cessation and controlling hypertension and cholesterol are helpful. Smoking increases the risk of visual loss from macular degeneration.
The wet form of macular degeneration is best treated with inject able medications and often in combination with a laser treatment. These inject ables are administered in Dr. Barbour’s office and may be given every other month. Patients are reporting a increase in visual acuity of up to 5 lines following injections. Medications such as Lucentis and Macugen have the most widespread usage.