macular degeneration information

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Age Related Macular Degeneration is a debilitating disease that can result in the inability to read letters and see central visual details.

Until recently, no known treatment was available to retard the progression of macular degeneration.

For more information, CLICK HERE or the links at left.


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Important Facts About Macular Degeneration & Low Vision

MACULAR DEGENERATION: An eye condition in which the macula, a sensitive area in the retina responsible for central and detail vision, is damaged, often causing loss of central vision.

TYPES: "Dry" Form - usually progresses slowly and causes central vision loss. "Wet" Form - rarer, and more severe. May progress rapidly causing significant central vision loss.

WHO GETS IT: Most common in people over 60, but can appear as early as age 40. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss among people over 65, and, as life expectancy increases, the disease is becoming an increasingly significant problem.

CAUSES: There is no conclusive proof as to what causes macular degeneration, however, some scientists believe heredity may play a part, as may UV light exposure and malnutrition.

PREVENTION: Although there is no hard evidence as to how to prevent macular degeneration, these steps may help:

  • Regular eye exams by your Eye M.D. Your Eye M.D. is specially trained to detect many vision-threatening conditions even before you develop symptoms. The earlier the problems are detected, the better chance of preventing vision loss.
  • Protection from UV-A and UV-B rays. Some studies have suggested that prolonged or frequent exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays may be a factor in macular degeneration and other eye conditions, so always wear your sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UV rays when outdoors.
  • Proper nutrition. Although there is no concrete evidence that nutrition plays a role in macular degeneration, a healthy diet can't hurt and can prevent many other health problems. Some Eye M.D.s may recommend vitamins or minerals to supplement your diet.

TREATMENT: There is usually no treatment for the "dry" form of macular degeneration, but low vision rehabilitation can help those with significant vision loss to maintain an excellent quality of life. Laser surgery can sometimes treat the "wet" form and low vision rehabilitation can help those with vision loss.

CURRENT RESEARCH: There is a great deal of research and several major scientific studies being conducted to find the causes and develop effective treatments for all types of macular degeneration. Visit the National Eye Institute Web site for additional information, www.nei.nih.gov.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the most promising new treatments for the "wet" type of macular degeneration. It involves the injection of a drug, Visudyne, into the bloodstream, followed by a brief laser treatment. The laser "activates" the drug, which helps destroy abnormal blood vessels in the eye that damage the macula. The procedure may be done in the EyeMDs' office, and several treatments may be necessary for it to be effective. Unproven Treatments.

Be wary of any treatment that promises to restore vision, or cure or prevent macular degeneration. There are so many so-called "miracle cures" advertised (often in magazines or on the Internet) that have not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy. These treatments may be expensive and are generally not covered by insurance. If you are considering trying a new or untested treatment, make sure you talk to your EyeMD to ensure they are safe and won't interfere with the timely and effective treatment of any eye problems.

LOW VISION REHABILITATION: This can help people who have experienced mile to severe vision loss adjust to their condition and continue to enjoy active and independent lifestyles. Rehabilitation may involve anything from adjusting the lighting in your home to learning to use low vision aids to help you read and perform daily tasks. Your EyeMD can arrange rehabilitation or refer you to organizations that can help.

SUPPORT: Adjusting to vision loss can be difficult at first. Your EyeMD may be able to recommend some support groups for people with low vision. You can support friends and family by encouraging them in their rehabilitation efforts and providing help (such as rides to appointments) when needed.

RESOURCES: Your EyeMD is your best source for any eye care question or need. Your EyeMD is a medical doctor specially trained to provide the full range of eye care, from eye exams and prescribing glasses and contacts to complex surgery for eye problems.