Macular degeneration is an aging change or deterioration of the central vision area called the macula. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina and is responsible for our fine and detailed vision. The risk of developing macular degeneration is strongly tied to advancing age. Family history is also important. Hypertension, smoking and sun exposure are also thought to be risk factors. There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration, a “wet” type and a “dry” type. The “dry” type has a better prognosis. On average, this condition is slowly progressive. Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute has sponsored a 10-year study called the Age- Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which has shown that a combination of antioxidant nutrients and zinc reduces the risk of vision loss and progression of AMD by about 25 percent in patients with more advanced dry AMD.
With “wet” macular degeneration new blood vessels grow in the macular region causing leakage, bleeding, and scarring in the macular region. To help better identify the cause of the leakage and to determine if laser treatment is possible, a test called fluorescein angiography is generally recommended. If the leaks can be properly identified, laser treatment may be required to stabilize or improve vision. The latest and most promising treatments for “wet” macular degeneration involved injecting medicine directly into the eye. Several injections are often required to get maximum results. If “wet” macular degeneration is detected in one eye, there is an approximately 10% chance, each year, that the other eye will become involved. Since macular degeneration will affect only the macula or central vision, the peripheral vision will not be affected and can always be utilized.