Macular Degeneration: Maine Eye
Providing Macular Degeneration Treatments For Maine
According to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, macular degeneration is the most frequent cause of legal vision loss for patients aged 55 and above in the United States and is estimated to affect over 10 million Americans. This is a serious degenerative eye disease that may require immediate attention from a medical ophthalmologist.
Before you can start to learn about macular degeneration and why this disease can lead to vision loss it is important to understand the retina and macula parts of the eye. Here are some important aspects to understanding the retina:
- The retina connects to the optic nerve which transmits images to the brain.
- The retina is responsible for light sensing
- The center of the retina is the macula
- The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina
- The macula is responsible for seeing extremely fine details
If the retina or macula have problems transmitting images through the optic nerve to the brain blindness can result.
About Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration, also called age related macular degeneration, affects primarily the aging population and gradually destroys central vision. As noted above the central vision is critical for seeing fine details and necessary for performing daily tasks such as reading and driving. This degenerative eye disease causes no pain and develops over a long period of time. Because this eye disease develops very slowly patients typically notice no change in their vision.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
- Colors are no longer vibrant and clear
- Light sensitivity issues
- Patients report gradual inability to see objects
- Blurred central vision
- Lack of ability to see details
- Dark gray spots in center of vision
Macular Degeneration Risk Factors Review
- If you are overweight or have obesity problems you will be more at risk
- If you have a family history you may be more at risk
- Women have a higher risk of macular degeneration than men
- Excessive sunlight exposure can lead to macular degeneration
- Macular degeneration is higher among caucasians
- Diets high in fat can cause macular degeneration
- The smoking of cigarettes can lead to macular degeneration
Understanding the Amsler Grid
The Maine Eye retina eye doctors will determine regular follow-up appointments to monitor a macular degeneration condition by using an Amsler grid at least twice a week. This will help so that any changes in vision will be recognized as early as possible. The Maine Eye Center retina eye doctors will provide any instructions necessary to use the Amsler grid.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two forms of macular degeneration- dry and wet. The dry form is usually less severe and reading vision is often maintained.
Dry Macular Degeneration
This type of macular degeneration does not cause total blindness but typically worsens over time with the blurring vision and blind spots located in the central vision. Dry macular degeneration involves the presence of yellow deposits known as drussen in the macula. As these yellow spots grow in size and increase they will lead to a dimming effect or distortion of vision. In the advanced stage of dry macular degeneration central vision is lost but total blindness may not occur.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration affects much less of the total macular degeneration population. With wet macular degeneration blood vessels grow abnormally underneath the macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing vision distortion. It is believed that the diseased retina stimulates the production of these new blood vessels in response to a decreased supply of nutrients and slow transport of wastes. Unfortunately, new blood vessels do not improve the health of the retina. Instead, they often leak blood or fluid into the retina.
Macular Degeneration Treatments
Maine Eye Center provides various treatment options for macular degeneration including:
- Lucentis Injections
- Avastin Injections
Lucentis Injections, Maine Lucentis Injections
Lucentis is a prescription medication for the treatment of patients with wet macular degeneration. As mentioned earlier in on this page wet macular degeneration involves the leaking of blood vessels onto the retina. After receiving FDA approval in June of 2006 Lucentis has become a guiding light source for patients once facing blindness.
In order to get a Lucentis injection your eye will be prepped and cleaned in order to prevent any type of infection. Our retina specialists will then numb your eye to limit any discomfort. Patients do report slight pressure on the eye. Once the injection has passed the pressure will subside.
Lucentis Facts (courtesy of Genentech USA)
- It is FDA approved for wet AMD and was developed specifically for use in the eye
- Efficacy and safety of LUCENTIS was tested in clinical studies of more than 800 people over 2 years
- In clinical studies, patients treated monthly for up to 2 years saw their vision stabilize or improve. In fact, 9 out of 10 people saw their vision stabilize (which means they lost fewer than 15 letters on the eye chart), and up to 4 out of 10 people saw a 3-line gain on the eye chart (which means they could see an additional 15 letters
Avastin (FDA approval 2004)
This drug was originally used for cancer patients but is now used to treat wet macular degeneration and works by inhibiting growth of abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye. Avastin is administered by IV injection and is used by many ophthalmology practices, however; the use is considered”off label”.
The objective of the Avastin is ultimately to prevent further vision loss. Some patients have reported some regained vision but the medication should not be expected to restore vision that has already been lost due to macular degeneration.
Macular Degeneration Prevention
If you have a family history of macular degeneration or are a cigarette smoker you may choose to make some lifestyle changes that could help prevent macular degeneration in the future. Listed below are a few tips for macular degeneration prevention.
- Regular exercise
- Keep your weight under control
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Avoid to much sun and UV exposure
- Get regular eye exams after the age of 40
- Do not smoke