Although research is taking place and Gulf Coast Eye Institute is a leader in this research, Macular Degeneration is currently considered an incurable eye disease.
Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them – via the optic nerve – from the eye to the brain. The retina’s central portion, called the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision, and it controls our ability to read, drive, recognize faces or colors and see objects in fine detail.
Regular eye exams are vital to diagnose problems and maintain visual health. Changes in vision are more receptive to treatment during the early stages of any problem. Once the macula has been severely damaged, treatment is not possible.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
In the earliest stages of macular degeneration, vision may become blurred for reading or for distance or both. A very important symptom to pay attention to is distortion. Straight lines (things like telephone poles or door frames) may appear slightly bent. You may also see a dark gray spot or notice that the sizes or colors of objects don’t appear the same for each eye. These symptoms require prompt attention by an eye specialist.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two basic types of Macular Degeneration: “dry” and “wet.” Approximately 85% to 90% of the cases of Macular Degeneration are the “dry” (atrophic) type, while 10-15% are the “wet” (exudative) type.
Treating Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration. Prevention and monitoring are the best medicines. A healthy lifestyle can be important in reducing the risk of macular degeneration. A diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fish, supplemented with vitamins high in specific antioxidants (A, C, E and beta-carotene and zinc) can significantly reduce the risk of macular degeneration. A special combination of vitamins and minerals may reduce disease progression.
Intravitreal injections are a way to treat wet macular degeneration. Special drugs are injected into the eye to help slow down vision loss from macular degeneration and in some cases improve sight.