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Eye care information on diseases and treatments
Macular Degeneration Introduction
Macular Degeneration, more formally known as age related macular degeneration, or ARMD for short, is a common eye disorder that is a sign of getting older. Full or partial blindness is the symptom. Most people are diagnosed with macular degerationaround 50 years of age and total blindness usually sets in at around 75 years of age, Despite the fact the numerous studies have been done on macular degeneration the exact cause of the disorder is unknown. It is not a painful malady.
ARMD is caused by the degradation of the macula, which is the most sensitive part of the eye that can see color. The macula contains “cones” that help us see daylight and see detailed sharp images. It occurs due to degeneration of the macula, which is located at the center of the retina and is the most sensitive part of it, containing the cones. It is these cones that are responsible for giving us daylight as well as sharp, detailed vision.
Kinds of Age Related Macular Degeneration
There are two kinds of macular degeneration: dry or non-neovascular and wet or neovascula age related macular degeneration. Dry ARMD accounts for eighty percent of all of cases. However wet ARMD accounts for the eighty percent of macular degeneration that cases that end up as total blindness.
Dry or non-neovascular ARMD: Dry ARMD occurs early in the disease process and is characterized by pigment deposits and the thinning of macular tissues. Eventually the central part of the vision breaks down and blurs your sight. It becomes necessary to add more light in order to see objects.
Dry ARMD is characterized by yellow spots called drusen. It usually produces a gradual loss of vision over many years and it is not a serious as wet ARMD. Although the disorder affects both eyes vision may be only lost in one eye. About ten percent of the dry ARMD cases progress to a more severe form of the disease called wet or neovascular ARMD
Wet or neovascular ARMD: Neovascularization refers to growth of unnecessary new blood vessels that leak blood and block the vision, which is what happens in wet ARMD. The body demands to the degenerating retina’s need for more blood by forming arteries with weak walls in the retina. Every time they leak light sensitive retinal cells are destroyed. This can produce dark spots in your vision. If the blood vessels continue to leak you can suffer from scarring and vision loss. With this type of ARMD vision loss can be rapid and permanent. cells, producing dark spots in your vision. This leakage may lead to scarring and central vision loss. With wet ARMD loss of vision can occur quickly.
Signs and symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration
For dry ARMD the tow most common symptoms are blurred vision and loss of night vision. As the macula deteriorates you will need more and more light to see. As the disease progresses you may experience blind spot in the center of your vision.
In wet ARMD the alarming early sign is seeing straight lines as crooked. This results when fluid leaking distorts your vision.
To diagnose ARMD conditions your physician uses the Amsler grid which is a chart containing a graph with black lines.
An eye professional can diagnose early signs of ARMD before the symptoms appear. He will do all of the tests necessary to diagnose the disorder including fluorescent angiography.
Risk factors in Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age creates the biggest disposition for ARMD. If you are white and female you are also at greater risk. The disease may also be a side effect of some drugs. Some eye experts also believe it to be hereditary.
Recent evidence also suggests that smoking, high blood pressure and obesity can cause ARMD. It is also seems to be more prevalent in those with lighter eye color.
Treatment for Age Related Macular Degeneration conditions
There is no cure for ARMD. Only the symptoms can be treated and not always successfully. Depending on whether or not you have dry or wet ARMD some improvement in your eyesight or slowing down of the progression of the disease may be possible.
For dry ARMD, a study has proved that supplementation with A,C and E might slow down the progress of the disease. High quantities of nutritional supplements may also slow down the progression of the disease. Protecting your eyes against ultra violet light by wearing sunglasses is also advised.
For wet ARMD, drugs like the FDA approved Lucentin and Macugen may be prescribed to improve eyesight.