Macular Degeneration

by Dr. Robert Benza, MD 10. May 2013 10:15

Macular Degeneration is one of the most common eye conditions in our population as we age. It can be very significant since the central vision often is compromised resulting in decreased activities such as reading, computer work, watching television and driving a car.  Since most patients are
over 60 or 65 years of age,  these are the activities they enjoy most.
The macula is the central portion of the retina which lies in the back of the eye.  If you compare the eye to a camera, the function of the retina is like the "film" in the camera.   It helps develop the picture.  Therefore, damage to the central part of the retina (or "film")  often results in a blurred or distorted picture for the eye.  There are two forms of macular degeneration,  dry and wet.   Dry macular degeneration is the milder, slower form which has the ability to turn into wet macular degeneration over time.   Wet macular degeneration is when an abnormal blood vessel grows into the damaged macula and leaks or bleeds which can suddenly decrease the vision overnight.
There continues to be progress with treatment plans.  Originally, laser was commonly used with some success. Many treatments today involve injecting medicines into the eye in attempt to get the abnormal blood vessels to regress. This treatment is for wet macular degeneration.  Dry macular degeneration is typically not treated the same way since there is no bleeding vessel.  
Risk factors for macular degeneration include smoking, high cholesterol, poor diet, excessive sun exposure, etc. I often recommend no smoking, controlling the cholesterol, sunglass wear,  and a multivitamin with a specified amount of zinc and lutein for my macular degeneration patients.   If you are a relative of a macular degeneration patient,  these are good things as well. Contact your eye physician or primary care physician to determine if multivitamin treatment is right for you.

Remember,  protect those eyes!!!


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