Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease progression that affects the area of the macula on the retina. This area has the greatest number of vision receptors and is also the area of sharpest visual acuity. Macular degeneration usually occurs in older adults. Many factors influence on the development and progression of this disease, including high blood pressure and poor circulation within the macula.

Age-related changes

In macular degeneration, age-related changes are the following: the patient has poor vision, the image is often disfigured (distorted lines, missing lines when looking at a linear net) and imagery has low contrast. We are familiar with two forms of age-related macular degeneration, the dry and wet (or exudative) forms.

Dry and wet degeneration

The dry form of macular degeneration is more common and does not affect visual acuity as severely as the wet form. In wet (exudative) degeneration, visual acuity can worsen severely and damage to the centre of vision is typical. This condition is caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the centre of the macula and the leaking of fluid in this area.

Treatment

There are different therapies to treat macular degeneration but not all are suitable for all forms of the disease. The most common treatment is a prescription of vitamins or medications that are used to improve blood circulation. These can somewhat stop the condition, but they cannot cure it. Recently, photodynamic and anti-angiogenic therapy, which applies medications to block the development of new blood vessels and prevent leakage from abnormal vessels in the eye, has more frequently been used.

Detection in the early stage is key

For successful treatment, it is crucial to detect this disease in its early stages and to begin treatment as soon as possible. If disease in the region of the macula is suspected, it is recommendable to undergo an optical coherence tomography (OCT) examination in addition to an examination of the eye fundus.

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