Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a disease characterized by damaged area called macula in the eye. Macula is the central area of the retina, which provides the most detailed central vision. We can read or pass some thread through a needle by means of this special area.

When macula dysfunctions, we complain about cloudiness and darkness of the objects we see. Although macular degeneration reduces the central vision, the peripheral vision remains unaffected. To give an example, we can see a clock on the wall but we cannot tell what time it is. Macular degeneration will not result in total blindness. Most patients will have enough sight to look after themselves.

What Is The Incidence of Macular Degeneration?

Approximately one person out of 4-5 over 50 years of age and one person out of two 85 years of age will have findings of macular degeneration.

How Many Types of Macular Degeneration Are There?

There are two types of macular degeneration;

  1. Dry Macular Degeneration: It is very common and occurs with age. Loss of vision is less as it progresses slowly and manifests in a long time.
  2. Wet Macular Degeneration: 10% of the patients have this type. It manifests with abnormal blood vessel growth posterior to the eye and resulting leakage, and hemorrhage. In this case, loss of vision is sudden and severe.

Who Is At More Risk?

The two major risk factors include;

  1. Older ages: Approximately 25% of individuals over 65 years of age have macular degeneration.
  2. One eye has macular degeneration: Approximately 90% of those with macular degeneration in one eye will have their other eye affected by the disease in 2 years.

What Are The Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

It can manifest with various symptoms in different persons. Although one eye has a highly progressed loss of vision, the other eye will be able to remain healthy for years. It is not easy to diagnose macular degeneration in early period. You may have difficulty in reading and working if both of the eyes are affected.

  1. A dark area will appear in the center of your sight.
  2. The straight lines you look at will be distorted.
  3. The colors seem paler. 
  4. The letters on a page will be distorted as in the figure.
  5. How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Early diagnosis and treatment is highly important. Generally, the existing loss of vision is often irreversible despite current treatments; however the progression can be ceased. You should have your eyes checked regularly for early diagnosis.

In addition to routine examination evaluating the visual acuity, a detailed retinal examination plays an important role in diagnosis of the disease. There is a simple test you can have at home by yourself in addition to regular examinations to establish early diagnosis.

Amsler Grid Test

This test allows you to detect initial symptoms of wet macular degeneration. If the lines look bent, distorted or missing you should immediately consult you’re your doctor.

What is the treatment of Macular Degeneration?

  1. Dry Macular Degeneration: If you have the dry form, we recommend you to make regular visits to your eye doctor and use antioxidant medication containing vitamins and minerals for your eye as a protective measure.
  2. Wet Macular Degeneration: Although loss of vision is irreversible in this type, progression of vision loss can be ceased and/or decelerated by a successful treatment.

There are recent studies about new treatment alternatives. One of the current treatment options is photodynamic therapy. This therapy is a two-stage procedure and involves IV injection of a drug activated by light and non-burner laser application.

Amsler Grid Test

  1. Hold the test paper at a distance of 30–35 cm.
  2. Close one eye first and look at the point in the center of the test paper and do the same with the other eye.

If the lines look missing or bent, it might indicate a damaged visual cortex. In this case, you must see an eye doctor immediately.
It is likely to detect all macular degenerations using ''Amsler Grid Test''.

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The information on this website is not intended to replace any medical advice given by physicians with access to your detailed medical history.