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Facts about Macular Degeneration

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Amazing Eye

facts-about-macular-degeneration

Macular Degeneration Facts

The leading cause of vision loss is macular degeneration (AMD), which affects more than 10 million Americans. This number is more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. This condition is considered incurable. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and researchers from the University of Wisconsin have concluded that 6.5% of Americans over the age of 50 have some degree of macular degeneration.

In England and Wales, 50% of patients with severe visual impairment is caused by AMD, which is an estimated 1.5 million people. The prediction of people that will be affected worldwide by 2020, is 196 million people, and by 2040, it will be 288 million.

Physical Manifestations of Macular Degeneration?

The central portion of the retina, which is called the macula deteriorates with this disorder. The back layer in the eye records images we see; then, the images are sent via the optic nerve to the brain. The macula is the portion of the eye responsible for focusing vision in the eye.

The macula is responsible for central vision giving us the ability to focus, and it also controls our ability to recognize colors or faces and to see objects in fine detail. The ability to read or drive a car is impacted severely by this disorder.

The greatest risk factor for Macular Degeneration (AMD) is advancing age as the risk increases for people over the age of 55 and older.

The stages of Age-related of Macular Degeneration includes:

  1. Early AMD typically does not include vision loss, and this is certainly a good reason to get regular eye examinations. This is especially important if you have one of the risk factors, which are listed below. Early AMD is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen, which are yellow deposits beneath the retina.
  2. Intermediate AMD may involve some vision loss, but there are no other symptoms that are noticeable.
  3. Late AMD will have very noticeable symptoms.

Two Forms of Macular Degeneration

The dry form of this disease has yellow deposits called drusen in the macula. As the drusen grows and increases in numbers, they will probably cause a distortion or dimming of the vision. A thinning of the light-sensitive layer of macula cells occurs as this disease advances, which results in atrophy or tissue death. Blind spots in the center of the vision may occur in advanced states of this disease, therefore, patients lose central vision. Peripheral vision is not affected. Most patients have the dry form of macular degeneration.

The wet form of macular degeneration has abnormal blood vessels growing from the choroid that is underneath the macula, and it is called choroidal neovascular. These blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina and fluid can build up in the back of the eye. This process causes visual distortions, causing straight lines to look wavy. There are also blind spots in the central vision. A scar is formed eventually that will cause permanent loss of central vision.

While most people have the dry form of AMD, it can eventually lead to the wet form. Approximately 10% of patients end up with the wet form of AMD, and they are the ones that have the greatest degree of visual loss. Social isolation and depression can be other effects of this disease. Patients may also experience visual hallucinations, known as the Charles Bonnet syndrome.

Macula of the Retina

facts-about-macular-degeneration

Risk Factors for AMD

There is a genetic component as people with a family history are at an increased risk. Caucasians are also at a higher risk.

Other factors that may increase your risk of macular degeneration include:

  1. People that are over the age of 50.
  2. Smoking doubles the risk of getting AMD.
  3. Obesity increases the chance of eye or intermediate macular degeneration, and it will often progress to a more severe form of this disease.
  4. Hypertension and cardiovascular disease may also put you at a higher risk.
  5. Exposure to UV light directly from the sun or blue light is also weakly associated.

Common Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration

  • A decreased intensity and brightness of color
  • Looking at straight lines that seem curved
  • Reduced central vision out of one or both eyes
  • Blind spots or well-defined blurry spots in the field of vision
  • The overall vision will have a general haziness
  • An abrupt onset and rapid worsening of symptoms

Can You Prevent AMD?

Routine eye exams will help identify any abnormalities in the eyes, and the ophthalmologist will certainly recognize early symptoms, which can help prevent the development of wet AMD. It is not preventable, but it may be slowed.

Some things that may reduce the risk of AMD include:

  1. Seek to manage any other medical conditions, such as taking prescribed medications to treat hypertension or cardiovascular disease.
  2. Stop smoking as that certainly puts you at a higher risk of AMD.
  3. Exercise regularly and maintain a normal weight.
  4. Eat a healthy diet with fresh fruit and vegetables. Nuts and fish are beneficial due to omega-3 and fatty acids.

Mavcular Degeneration

facts-about-macular-degeneration

Treatments

There are some medications that are used when treating wet macular degeneration, and they include:

  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • Aflibercept (Eylea)
  • Ranibizumab (Lucentis)

These medications are injected directly into the affected eye, and they may be needed as often as every 4 weeks. If the blood vessels shrink or the fluid under the retina absorbs, then the vision may improve. There are some possible side effects that include conjunctival hemorrhage, floaters, eye pain, increased eye pressure or inflammation.

Another therapy is photodynamic therapy, which treats abnormal blood vessels in the macula. Verteporfin (Visudyne) is injected in the vein, then a special laser light is shone on the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Abnormal blood vessels close and leakage stops. Repeated procedures may need to be used if the blood vessels reopen.

Photocoagulation therapy uses a high-energy laser beam to seal abnormal blood vessels. There is also an Implantable Miniature Telescope that magnifies images onto the retina, which actually reduces the size of the central vision blind spot. This telescope is about the size of a pea, and it is for end-stage macular degeneration. The patient can recognize people and see facial expressions with this device.

In Summary

Ideally, macular degeneration is detected early, so a patient can be monitored closely. If wet macular degeneration occurs treatment may be started earlier to reach a better outcome.

Macular Degeneration

References

  1. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/macular-degeneration/age-related-macular-degeneration-overview#1
  2. https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/amd.htm
  3. https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wet-macular-degeneration/symptoms-causes/syc-20351107
  5. https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/amd-treatments.htm
  6. https://www.macular.org/treatments

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 21, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

Yes, I think many people do not realize the importace of eating healthy. I appreciate your comments.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 21, 2020:

Very informative. I like the fact that like most diseases and health conditions intake of fresh vegetables and fruits in one's daily diet helps to prevent this condition to a great extent. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 30, 2020:

Hi Lori,

I'm sorry to hear you have this condition. I pray your surgery goes well. I had that surgery and paid for expensive new lenses but it helped tremendously. Thank you so much for your kind words.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 24, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Since the focus of this article is macular degeneration I didn't focus on cataract surgery. Macular degeneration has no cure just some treatments that may slow the disease.

Most people do well with cataract. It is possible to get lenses put in your eyes if that correct your vision if you wear glasses. People usually do well with this procedure. I hope that clears it up for you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 24, 2020:

Hi MG,

I am glad this article was informative for you. I appreciate your comments.

Robert Sacchi on June 24, 2020:

This is disturbing. It is a dice throw if the cataract surgery will go well or not?

MG Singh emge from Singapore on June 24, 2020:

Lots of information about which I knew n nothing. Thanks.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 24, 2020:

Hi Bronwen,

I understand your concern. My husband and I have both had the surgery and we had lenses put in. My result was good and my husbands was not. I don't have any more answers.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on June 23, 2020:

Thank you for all the information that you have set out so clearly. Some years ago I had cataract surgery, but I've never been completely satisfied with the result, so it's interesting to read in the comments that other people have had a similar experience. I value my eyes as my hobbies are writing and painting, but realise that as I grow older so do my eyes!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 22, 2020:

Hi Mona,

I am sorry to hear you have this problem and I sure hope you can get the telescopes. Thank you for your comments.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 22, 2020:

Thank you so much for this informative article. I have wet macular degeneration and it's good to know that I can look forward to Implantable Miniature Telescopes. I will ask my doctor about it.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 04, 2019:

Lori, I hope they find a cure too. I know it is a little scary to get this diagnosis as you have to be more concerned about losing some of your viision. I hope you keep your vision as it is now with no worsening in your future.

Lori Colbo from United States on August 03, 2019:

I just watched the video and surprised to hear the wet form is easier to treat. I sure hope they find a cure.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 03, 2019:

Hi Lori, I hope your surgery on your left eye will improve your vision. I had cataract surgery on both of my eyes and had lenses put in to improve my vision, which it did I had worn glasses since I was about 13 so it was a joy to not wear them for a while.

I have a good friend with macular degeneration, and her vision is not as good as it once was, but the disease has moved very slowly with her, so I hope it will move slowly with you also. I think she is taking those vitamins also. They should help you, and certainly, they won't hurt.

I am glad you found this article helpful, and I wish you the best vision possible for the future. Thanks for sharing your experience, and I appreciate your comments.

Lori Colbo from United States on August 03, 2019:

I was diagnosed a few years ago and I get eye exams regularly. All this time I had no symptoms yet. About a month ago I had cataract surgery on my right eye. The results were disappointing. At my second post-op appt the other day he said my vision in that eye was now 20/30 which is great however, my vision is still impaired. He said it is probably the macular degeneration kicking in. O joy. In a few weeks, I will have cataract surgery on the left eye. I have never had bad eyesight except for a slight astigmatism and of course reading glasses when I came into my late 40s. I always had excellent distance vision. That is no longer with either eye. The eyesight in my right eye I will admit has improved quite a bit but still isn't perfect for distance and sometimes closer up.

Sometimes it has to do with lighting, font and color if its a sign, poster, or something with lettering. I am taking Preser Vision Ahreds 2 eye vitamin and mineral supplement recommended by eye doctor. Are you familiar with it? If so, what is your opinion or knowledge of it. I really appreciate this article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 03, 2019:

Hi Maria, I am glad you stopped by today and made such very nice remarks. I try to do enough research that my articles are accurate. I appreciate you commenting. Hugs Maria, Pam

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 03, 2019:

Informative and well-researched, dear Pamela. Thanks especially for distinguishing between wet and dry AMD.

I have lots of catching up to do over the weekend with your posts, which never disappoint. Hugs, Maria

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 13, 2019:

Hi Robert, I agree with you. Thank you for your comment.

Robert Sacchi on July 12, 2019:

It is frightening that there is incurable.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 05, 2019:

Hi Genna, My father lost most of his vision before he passed away, and he loved to read also. It is so sad. I appreciate our comments.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 05, 2019:

Hi Pamela. Excellent article. My mother suffered from AMD, which was difficult as she did so love to read. Thank you for giving us the facts surrounding this unfortunate disease.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 04, 2019:

Hi Linda, I appreciate your nice comments. Happy 4th of July!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 04, 2019:

Hi Dr. Muhmood, Thank you so much for your very nice compliment.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 04, 2019:

Hi Lora, You really summed out the important ways of working to prevent this disease. Thank you for your comments. Have a Happy 4th of July!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 03, 2019:

This is an interesting article that contains important information. Thank you for sharing the facts and the advice, Pamela.

Dr Kulsum Mehmood from Nagpur, India on July 03, 2019:

Macular degeneration, nicely explained .....

Lora Hollings on July 03, 2019:

Wonderful article, Pamela! It is a disease that affects millions of people and consequently as your article emphasizes the importance of routine eye exams so that if you have this disease it can be detected early so that it can be monitored and treatment started for a better outcome. Also knowing the risk factors also can help to prevent this disease from occurring. A healthy diet and weight, regular exercise, not smoking these will also help you to avoid the onset of this disease. Thanks for enlightening us with this great information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 03, 2019:

Hi Bronwen, I have a friend with this problem also. I am glad you have a new understanding of this disorder. Thank you for your comments.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on July 03, 2019:

I have a friend with this problem, so thank you for such a clear explanation of the disease.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 03, 2019:

Hi Lori, I am so sorry to hear that. The wet form is heartbreaking. Going blind would be awful. It must have been awful for you too. Thank you for sharing.

Lori Colbo from United States on July 03, 2019:

I forgot to add that my grandmother had the wet form and she was devastated. It took a great toll on her. Her depression was severe. She had hallucinations but I never knew what the exact cause was. Now I know. I had thought perhaps it was part of her depression (psychosis). Along with all of that her hearing loss was pretty bad also. She was able to afford hearing aids but they were not as helpful as the ones they have now. All her friends and family were gone except her twin sister. When she died it did her in. Such painful memories as I speak of it.

Lori Colbo from United States on July 03, 2019:

Thank you so very much for this article. I have this (dry form) but it has not yet affected me. I am using Areds 2 as they recommended. It was very reasonable at Costco. Next week I am having cataract surgery and will be so glad to see better. I will be getting more eye exams to keep tabs on the Macular degeneration. You did a fine job here.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 03, 2019:

Hi Me, I am sorry to hear that your mother and her brothers had this disease. Seeing your doctor regularly is a good plan. I appreciate your comments.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 03, 2019:

This topic is near and dear to my heart. My mother and both her brothers have this. I don't think it hit them until their late 60s, early 70s, however. I think I'll get on the phone to my opthalmologist right now!

Great article. People need to learn about this debilitating disease.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Pop, I agree. I appreciate your comments.

breakfastpop on July 02, 2019:

Having regular exams is, in my opinion, the best way to go.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Peg, I am so sorry to hear about your aunt. It must be so difficult for her. I very much appreciate your comments about the article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Liz, The timing of your conversation is one of those crazy coincidences. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Kaili, Sorry to hear about your aunt and hope her vision stays well. Thank you so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Linda, I agree that losing your vision would be terribly scary. Healthy living is so important for prevention for so many diseases, but there are no guarantees. Thank you for your kind comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Peggy, I am glad you liked the article. Regular eye exams are more important as we age. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Bill, I am glad you found the article interesting. Thank you for commenting.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 02, 2019:

My mother's sister had this in its advanced stage. It grew much worse over time after she passed her 85th birthday. We went to a specialist and he was unable to do anything to help her. It was difficult for her to deal with and she frequently would hold things at different angles to try and see the details.

Your article clearly explains the disease, its causes and the results. Thanks for sharing this informative piece.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 02, 2019:

Only today I was able to refer to your article when talking to a friend about her eye condition.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on July 02, 2019:

Fascinating article Pamela, great work. My Aunt had MD and she went for laser treatments.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 02, 2019:

Pamela, I think I could cope with the loss of hearing or speech, but blindness would be so supremely isolating. How frightening. I knew of the disease but not the facts and details. Thank you for this informative article. It's also good to know that one can possibly avoid the problem with careful diet and lifestyle.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge of medicine with all of us, in this and your past articles. I look forward to more.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2019:

This is an excellent article, Pamela. Regular eye exams are vitally important for diagnosing diseases or conditions of the eye when they are more easily treated. Will pin this to my health board.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 02, 2019:

Thank you Pamela my big sister has this and gets the injection type treatments. It certainly has stopped degeneration but just a tiny tiny bit of improvement. It is always good to know more about a disease effecting a loved one. I will call her up today.

Glad I stopped smoking. Eye exam will be scheduled today.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 02, 2019:

I've heard of it but had no idea what it was. Thanks for the very interesting information, Pamela!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Liz, I am glad you are interested in this article, and I appreciate your very kind input.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Lorna, I have seen that too. Losing your vision is a horrible problem. I appreciate your nice comments.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 02, 2019:

As I know some people with this condition I have taken a great interest in this article. You have covered the issue in a through, helpful and well-structured manner.

Lorna Lamon on July 02, 2019:

Great article with lots of information. It is so important to adopt a healthy lifestyle and in particular where macular degeneration is concerned, as I have seen how people struggle with everyday living who have this condition.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Chitrangada, Living a healthy lifestyle can prevent a lot of diseases, as you said. I am glad this article gave you some new information. Thank you so much for your nice comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Jason, I sure hope phones won't cause people to get this disease. Age is certainly a big factor now, but that could change. Maybe they will find a better way to stop this disease. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2019:

Hi Flourish, I am sorry to hear about your grandparents. Maybe smoking was the case in their case. I have a friend in the beginning stages of AMD. Thanks for commenting.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 01, 2019:

A valuable and informative article.

I wasn’t aware of this medical term, macular degeneration. Thanks for the education and awareness.

This sounds different from glaucoma. But it’s good to know that adopting a healthy lifestyle, can prevent this eye disease.

As with other medical conditions, prevention is better than cure.

Thanks for sharing this well explained article.

Jason Behm from Cebu, Philippines on July 01, 2019:

Very informative and well researched article. I hope the numbers who suffer from this won't get high and even younger since a lot is exposed to blue light from using smartphones. Though it has weak association.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 01, 2019:

My grandfather (who died several years ago) went blind from this and it was very difficult for him because he could no longer drive and had been the principal caregiver for my grandmother who now has been diagnosed with the condition as well. Both were long term smokers.

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