Macular Degeneration

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is macular degeneration?
2. What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
3. How is macular degeneration detected?
4. How is macular degeneration treated?
5. Is macular degeneration curable?
6. Is macular degeneration preventable?
7. Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?
8. What is wet macular degeneration?
9. What is dry macular degeneration?
10. What are the causes of macular degeneration?

1. What is macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is a disease of the macula, an area of the retina at the back of the eye that is responsible for fine detail vision.

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2. What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

The symptoms of macular degeneration include:

    • Difficulty reading without extra light and magnification
    • Seeing objects as distorted or blurred, or abnormal in shape, size or color
    • The perception that objects "jump" when you try to look right at them
    • Difficulty seeing to read or drive
    • Inability to see details
    • Blind spot in center of vision

Early macular degeneration may cause little or no noticeable change in vision. Scheduling routine eye exams is important to detect it in its early stages.

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3. How is macular degeneration detected?

Angiography is the most widely used macular degeneration diagnostic test. During the test, a harmless orange-red dye called Fluorescein will be injected into a vein in the arm. The dye travels through the body to the blood vessels in the retina. A special camera takes multiple photographs. The pictures are then analyzed to identify damage to the lining of the retina or atypical new blood vessels. The formation of new blood vessels from blood vessels in and under the macula is often the first physical sign that macular degeneration may develop.

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4. How is macular degeneration treated?

In the early stages of macular degeneration, regular eye check-ups, attention to diet, in-home monitoring of vision and possibly nutritional supplements may be all that is recommended. In some wet form cases, new treatments such as LUCENTIS and Macugen may be used to block abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. In rare cases of wet macular degeneration, laser treatment may be recommended. This involves the use of painless laser light to destroy abnormal, leaking blood vessels under the retina.

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5. Is macular degeneration curable?

There is no cure for macular degeneration, however, treatments can slow vision loss.

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6. Is macular degeneration preventable?

The best way to prevent macular degeneration is by living a healthy lifestyle. Some research also suggests that ultraviolet light is a possible cause of macular degeneration, so wearing sunglasses that block these solar rays may be beneficial.

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7. Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?

People who are over the age of 65, women, caucasian, and those who have family members that have macular degeneration are at a higher risk of developing it. You may also be at a higher risk if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, infections, or a head injury.

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8. What is wet macular degeneration?

Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal or leaking blood vessels grow underneath the retina in the area of the macula. These changes can lead to distorted or blurred vision and, in some cases, a rapid and severe loss of straight ahead vision.

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9. What is dry macular degeneration?

Dry macular degeneration occurs when there is thinning or deterioration of the tissues of the macula or the formation of abnormal yellow deposits called drusen. Progression of dry macular degeneration occurs very slowly and does not always affect both eyes equally.

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10. What are the causes of macular degeneration?

The causes are unknown, but some people are at a higher risk for developing macular degeneration than others. Some studies suggest ultraviolet light may play a part in the development.

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