We can see the far or near objects, read the informative books and drive carefully with the help of our intact vision. But did you ever imagine your life without vision? What happens when the dysfunction occurs in your eyes? Frankly speaking, things wouldn’t be in your favor.
When the central portion of your retina, macular, starts to deteriorate mainly due to age, it results in the macular degeneration. Retina is the light-sensitive part of your eyes. So, if the problem occurs at this region, your vision will surely be affected. Though, this won’t lead to the complete blindness, it can cause the significant visual disability. Older people are more prone to getting the macular degeneration.
According to the latest research published in JAMA Ophthalmology Journal, it has been revealed that patients with decreased visual acuity because of macular degeneration travels less, as compared to those who are suffering from vision impairment due to glaucoma.
So, Macular degeneration leaves a negative impact on the psychological and social well-being of a person.
Types and causes of macular degeneration
There are two main types of macular degeneration that have been found commonly in people, namely, wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration occurs when the abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the macula in the choroid, also referred as Choroidal Neovascularization. These abnormal blood vessels will cause leakage of fluid and blood in the retina, disturbing the intact vision. Loss of central vision, straight lines appearing wavy and blind spots are the main symptoms of wet macular degeneration. If the leakage is excessive, the scar will appear and lead to the permanent loss of central vision.
Dry macular degeneration is caused when the yellow deposits, named as drusen is present in the macula. Although, few small sized drusen won’t trouble your vision, as they grow in size and number, they will start to diminish the quality vision. People with dry macular degeneration find reading very difficult. Atrophy, blind spots and loss of central vision are the characteristic of dry macular degeneration.
Stargardt disease is another type of macular degeneration reported mostly in young people. Presence of recessive gene is the cause of this type.
Symptoms of macular degeneration
The regular examination of vision can identify the macular degeneration early and the treatment can be started soon afterwards. Knowing its symptoms is also helpful for all of us too. However, they can be subtle and gradual. The common symptom in both of them is blurred central vision, even if a person is wearing glasses.
Dry form symptoms are:
- Need the brighter light to read anything
- Blurred printed or written texts
- Colors appears less vibrant as they should be
- Difficulty in recognizing the person’s face immediately
- Vision is hazier and less defined
Wet form symptoms are:
- Straight lines appear wavy or crooked
- Loss of central vision
- Central vision blind spot
How to diagnose?
Your opthalomogist or GP will ask the several questions regarding your symptoms and past medical history. If they suspect the macular degeneration, they will suggest the eye examination to you. On assessment, if any abnormality is found in macula or retina, they’ll suggest the series of other tests and measures, including:
- Amsler grid
- Flourescin angiography
- Coherence tomography
Above listed tests will be a big help in making the final decision. Additionally, these measures also aid in identifying what type of macular degeneration are you suffering from.
There are many treatment options available to cure the Macular Degeneration. Recently a new drug, MDM2 inhibitors can decrease the abnormal blood vessels, has been found by the researchers at University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
People with dry AMD can enhance their visual function through low-vision rehabilitation, stated in a study in 2008. High dose of specific antioxidants and zinc can produce the drastic difference in dry AMD.
Wet AMD can get improved by photodynamic therapy, anti-VEGF medication (anti vascular endothelial growth factor medication), Vitamins and minerals (Vit A,C,E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper), Robo4, telescope contact lens and laser.
Can stem cell therapy help?
Can Stem Cell Therapy help?
Of course! Recently, the researchers in the UK transplanted the eye cells to let the retina repair itself in wet age-related macular degeneration. A study published in 2015 in Journal Stem Cells described that incredible slowness of vision loss in rats with AMD has been noticed when they’ve given one injection of human stem cells. This new advanced treatment approach will open the doors for improvements and cure for people with AMD.
Only getting treatment isn’t enough to get the cure, you should also do the lifestyle changes for faster recovery. Hence, don’t just only rely on your medications and other medicinal stuff; try to change your lifestyle to become a better you!
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Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor