RubmdPhysical HealthWhat Is Macular Degeneration and How Do Eye Doctors Treat It?

What Is Macular Degeneration and How Do Eye Doctors Treat It?

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the central part of the retina, known as the macula. The macula is responsible for sharp, detailed vision and helps read, drive, and recognize faces. An eye doctor can help diagnose and treat macular degeneration, which can significantly affect a person’s vision and daily life. Here are some key things to know about this eye condition and how it can be managed:

Types of Macular Degeneration

When faced with macular degeneration, two types can be diagnosed — dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration involves the thinning and breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula, leading to gradual vision loss. Wet macular degeneration is severe, where abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These blood vessels can leak fluid and blood, causing damage to the retinal cells and resulting in rapid vision loss. An eye doctor can determine which type of macular degeneration a person has through a comprehensive eye examination.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration often starts subtly, making early detection challenging. It may begin with a slight blurring of vision or the appearance of straight lines as wavy. The symptoms will progress over time, causing more significant vision loss. Other common symptoms include difficulty seeing fine print or objects in the center of your vision, needing brighter light for reading and other activities, and decreasing contrast sensitivity. Some people may also experience changes in color perception.

People Susceptible to Macular Degeneration

The condition usually affects older adults. Other factors that may increase the chances of developing macular degeneration include genetics, smoking, and obesity. The risk of developing wet macular degeneration is also higher in women than men due to hormonal changes. People with lighter eye colors are at a higher risk of developing the condition due to their increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light. 

Preventing Macular Degeneration

Certain lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of developing the condition. Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are proactive steps in preventing macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses and hats can also help prevent the condition by protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays.

How Eye Doctors Treat Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, a complex eye condition, requires a personalized approach to treatment. The methods employed largely depend on whether the patient has dry or wet macular degeneration. The doctor can adopt any of the following treatment options:

Regular Monitoring

Early-stage dry macular degeneration often necessitates routine check-ups. This allows eye doctors to track the condition’s progression and adjust treatment plans accordingly. During these appointments, the doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to slow the disease’s progression.

Nutritional Supplements

Specific nutritional supplements can be beneficial for intermediate to advanced stages of dry macular degeneration. Your doctor can recommend antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper. The choice of supplements may vary depending on the patient’s particular case.

Anti-VEGF Injections

Wet macular degeneration can be treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections. These drugs work by reducing the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which are responsible for causing vision loss in wet macular degeneration. An eye doctor can assess the condition and determine the recommended dosage for each patient.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy may sometimes be used to treat wet macular degeneration. The procedure involves using a high-energy beam of light to destroy abnormal blood vessels and prevent further bleeding and leakage in the eye. Laser therapy can help stabilize vision and prevent further vision loss when performed by a skilled doctor.

Photodynamic Therapy 

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves injecting a light-activated medication into the arm, which travels to the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. The doctor then shines a light into the eye that activates the drug and destroys the abnormal blood vessels while leaving the healthy ones intact. A laser then activates the drug, damaging these abnormal vessels.

Seek Professional Help From an Eye Doctor

Macular degeneration is a common disease that can lead to severe vision loss if left unaddressed. It can manifest as dry or wet macular degeneration, depending on the type of abnormal blood vessel growth. Early detection and proper management of this condition can help prevent further vision loss and improve patients’ overall quality of life. Contact an eye doctor immediately if you experience any changes in your vision or have a family history of macular degeneration. 

Dr. Kishore Kumar (General Surgeon)
Dr. Kishore Kumar (General Surgeon)
Dr. Kishore Kumar is a General Surgeon, Proctologist, Vascular Surgeon, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Laser Specialist,

Popular Doctors

Related Articles