Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the leading cause of vision loss in developed countries. AMD is a progressive eye condition affecting as many as 15 million Americans, with 200,000 new cases each year. Retina Consultants of Orange County offers state-of-the-art services in diagnosis and treatment for macular degeneration.

Macular Degeneration Q & A

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a condition that causes the light-sensitive cells in the macula to degenerate. Patients typically notice blurring of their central vision or gray, distorted areas in the center of their vision. Other patients notice distorted vision or dimmed vision, often citing wavy lines in their vision. This is the most common cause of vision loss in the United States.

What are the types of macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration can be dry (non-neovascular/atrophic) or wet (neovascular/exudative). Dry macular degeneration occurs in about 90% of the patients with this condition. This occurs when small, round particles (drusens) form under the retina and cause thinning and degeneration of the retina. Wet macular degeneration is more rapid and occurs when abnormal blood vessels under the macula begin to grow. They can leak or bleed, leading to scarring of the macular and permanent vision loss.

What puts a patient at risk of developing macular degeneration?

Age is the most common risk factor of this condition, as the majority of patients who develop it are age 55 and older. Other risks include: 
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Poor dietary habits
Patients who think they're at risk should contact Retina Consultants of Orange County to discuss the condition.

What treatments are available for macular degeneration?

Dry macular degeneration has no cure. Patients at risk for this condition need to seek management care and prevention to protect their vision. Wet macular degeneration has seen great strides in treatment in recent years. Injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, including medications like Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea, are the most promising therapy for wet macular degeneration. These medications given as injections through the outside of the eye bind the proteins that cause the growth of abnormal blood vessels. This can stabilize vision in more than 90% of patients. A second treatment option is photodynamic therapy. This therapy selectively destroys abnormal blood vessels to prevent wet macular degeneration. It involves a medication, verteporfin, infused into the vein to destroy the blood vessels developing behind the macula.

How is macular degeneration prevented?

The best treatment for macular degeneration is not treatment, but prevention. Patients can help protect their vision by following a healthy diet, reducing their weight, quitting smoking, and protecting the eyes from sunlight. Patients with high blood pressure or cholesterol levels should use the medications their medical doctors recommend to control these conditions. For other information regarding preventing macular degeneration, contact the team at Retina Consultants of Orange County. You can learn more about Macular Degeneration here