About the disease
Macular degeneration is a severe eye condition whereby the nerve cells of the retina degenerate. It is more common in people aged over 60. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for visual sharpness. It is located almost at the center of the retina. As degeneration progresses the sufferer’s vision becomes blurred, objects may appear distorted and they may start to see spots. If not treated in time, macular degeneration can lead to blindness. Macular degeneration is usually caused by age-related changes in the eye. Over time, the macula tends to lose its initial sharpness. Such factors as high blood pressure, consumption of too much saturated fat and cholesterol, high levels of cholesterol and long-term exposure to sunlight can contribute to the development of macular degeneration.
There are two types of this disease:
- Dry macular degeneration
- Wet macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the most common form of this disease, accounting for 8 out of 11 cases. It is characterised by the accumulation of yellow deposits on the macula. Over time, these deposits merge together and develop a solid consistency that can disrupt the normal functioning of the retina and its supporting cells. As a result, the macula becomes thin and damaged.
Wet macular degeneration is usually caused by the leakage of fluid or blood from abnormal blood vessels into the macula. It is a much less common form of this disease, but its negative impact on the sufferer’s eyesight is much more serious.
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty reading, especially in low light conditions
- While reading, some letters may disappear
- Changes in color perception
- Early signs of macular degeneration could be detected during a routine visit to the ophthalmologist.
- An OCT scan is used to determine whether there are any abnormal blood vessels in the eye, which is an indicator of this disease.
- Angiography is used to get an image of the macula, to check it for signs of degeneration. A fluorescein angiography evaluates the condition of all blood vessels, searches for signs of dystrophic process and determines which treatment option would be the most suitable.
Currently, the most well-known treatment for macular degeneration is intravitreal treatment (inside the eye).
- Vitrectomy is used for both types of macular degeneration. This surgical procedure is mainly aimed at improving the blood supply to all parts of the retina. Cardiovascular drugs can also improve the blood flow.
- Laser surgery and photodynamic therapy can also irradiate the dystrophic layers.
- Laser coagulation is a process whereby a light beam is shone into the eye to cauterize ocular blood vessels and thus improve the patient’s eyesight.