Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age Related Macular Degeneration

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Is a degenerative condition that occurs with advancing age and hence called “Age Related Degeneration”.  The “Macula” refers to a specific position of the light sensitive film at the back of the eye called the Retina.  The centre of the retina is the Macula.  It is the most sensitive part of the retina and is responsible for close vision when reading and looking at peoples faces.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are many different types of Macular Degeneration.  However, it is essentially divided into 2 different types.  The Dry Form and the Wet Form.

Dry Macular Degeneration

With this form, the retinal cells slowly and gradually weaken and die.  It takes many months to years to progress.  Because it is so slow, people do not notice anything for many years until reading and close work becomes difficult.  It can look different in different people as in the images shown.

Wet Macular Degeneration

This occurs because of the progressive degeneration and thinning of the retina.  New blood vessels start to grow under the retina, which then leak blood and fluid hence the name “WET”.  Because the leakage occurs suddenly, people notice sudden distortion of their vision.  Straight lines become wavy and develop black/grey patches in their central vision.

Treatment Options

Until recently, there were no treatments available for Macular Degeneration.  With recent advances in Laser Technology, there are several options we may be able to use to stop the progression of the disease.  The laser treatments available are:

VISUDYNE Therapy / Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

This involves the use of a cold laser and a special drug that is activated by the laser.  The activated drug will then seal the leaking new blood vessels.

Transpupillary Thermo-Therapy (TTT)

This is another form of laser that delivered heat to the leaking blood vessels.  The heat will cause the blood to clot blocking the leaking spots.

Anti-VEGF Therapy

Is a new family of drugs, designed to stop the growth and leakage of these unusual blood vessels that develop in Wet AMD.  It does so by neutralising “VEGF” the very substance that promotes these vessel growth.  The net result is stopping the very damaging effect of the leakage of fluid in the macula.  For further details click – Anti-VEGF

Vitamins and Antioxidants

While this subject is still controversial, there are numerous research paper that are showing that Vitamins and Antioxidants may play a role in arresting the progression of Macular Degeneration or at least slowing it.  However, the effects of these agents does not show itself unless it is used continuously for many years.  Moreover, recent research have shown that high doses of Vitamin A can increase the incidence of Lung Cancer in smokers.  Also, high doses of betacarotene and Vitamin E can increase the risk of Heart Disease.  Therefore, such supplements should be used with caution and you should consult your doctor first.

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“The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”  Robertson Davies