Macular Degeneration

August 9, 2010

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness.

Today’s blog topic covers the eye condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that causes vision loss due to damage to the retina. With an estimated 2.95 people being afflicted by advanced AMD by 2020, it is vital for patients to be screened and treated for this degenerative disease. Since it is the leading cause of blindness in the US, AMD cannot be ignored.

Symptoms:

  • Blurred vision or a gradual loss of central vision
  • The appearance of drusen in your eyes, which is a yellowish or white accumulation of extracellular material
  • Trouble distinguishing between dark and light colors
  • Slow to have normal vision after being in bright light
  • Side or “peripheral” vision unaffected (though in rare cases, peripheral vision is affected by AMD.)

The disease is diagnosed as two different types, “dry” and “wet:”

  • The “dry” form of the disease is much more common and occurs where tissue deterioration in the macula is not accompanied by blood.  The deterioration of the retina is associated with the formation of small yellow deposits, known as drusen, under the macula. This phenomena leads to a thinning and drying out of the macula, causing the macula to lose its function (4). The amount of central vision loss is directly related to the location and amount of retinal thinning caused by the drusen.

  • Wet AMD is a complication of the dry form and results from fragile blood vessels beneath the macula and the retina. Blood and fluid leak out of these vessels, the reason for the “wet” designation. Wet AMD can progress rapidly, making prompt treatment and regular eye care appointments vital.

Treatments for AMD:

  • The focus for patients should be on preventing the onset of AMD as opposed to reversing the disease, since AMD is not 100% curable. Frequent exams with optometrists or retina specialists are the best option for identifying warning signs and establishing treatment options.
  • For dry macular, medical or surgical treatment options are not currently available. However, some studies have suggested that some vitamin supplements or diets that have high dosages of certain antibiotics can potentially slow the spread of dry AMD.
  • Injection treatments for wet AMD include Lucentis and Asvastin, two drugs that are injected directly into the eye. Don’t be alarmed; a very thin needle is used and the experience is not traumatic.
  • Other options include surgery and laser treatments. Your eye care doctors can advise you on available options available and associated risks.

Patients who visit the office of Dr. Akamine Davidson will experience a slower-paced exam, which is tailored for the needs of individuals who have limited vision issues such as AMD.

  • Usage of the Feinblooom Chart which features larger-sized numbers/letters and is intended to be set 10 feet from patients instead of at the more standard 20-feet distance.
  • Extra time is allowed for exams so patients are never rushed. This is especially important for those dealing with the frustrations associated with limited vision.
  • Trial frames are tried using various lenses, which allows for more natural viewing

As with many medical conditions, early diagnosis can make all the difference. While it is not curable, the progression of AMD can be slowed or stopped providing symptoms are caught early and proper treatment options are followed.

The office of Sandra Akamine Davidson is a full-service seven staff member facility located in Riverside California. Along with her associate Dr. Leanna Parisi, Dr. Akamine Davidson oversees a comprehensive eye care center, including eye examinations, LASIK consultations, retina photography and low vision evaluations. The office also features the latest in lenses and frames which include Transitions lenses and high-end frame designs including Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Ray-Ban. More information can be found at the office site at www.sandradavidsonod.com

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