Macular Degeneration FAQ’s

Macular Degeneration FAQ’s

What is macular degeneration?
Macular Degeneration (also known as AMD) is a common eye condition, and a leading cause of vision loss, generally affecting people 55 years of age and older.

Is macular degeneration always caused by age?
Macular Degeneration generally affecting people 55 years of age and older, which is why the term age-related macular degeneration (AMD) often is used to describe the condition. Some drugs might cause macular degeneration, and some cases are inherited (Also, Stargart’s Disease can affect children and young adults). Macular Degeneration is affecting over 10 million Americans, more than cataracts and glaucoma combined.

Who’s most at risk for macular degeneration?
If you’re over age 55, a smoker, white or have a family member with AMD, you have an increased risk for macular degeneration. Risk factors:
• Family History – People with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk.
• Gender / Race – Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
• Smoking
• Hypertension
You’re also at risk if you take following drugs: Aralen (chloroquine) or phenothiazine derivatives [Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Mellaril (thioridazine), Prolixin (fluphenazine), Trilafon (perphenazine) and Stelazine (trifluoperazine)].

Is there any way to prevent macular degeneration?
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What you eat also affects your macula. Researchers think that antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E), zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and essential fatty acids all can aid in preventing macular degeneration. Exercising and quitting smoking also might reduce your risk of AMD.

What are the signs and symptoms of macular degeneration?
Early signs of macular degeneration include: straight lines appearing wavy, fuzzy vision, and shadowy areas in your central vision. Dr. Cartwright may find indicators before you have any symptoms, so regular eye exams can mean an early diagnosis.
One way to tell if you are having these vision problems is to view an Amsler grid, which is a chart of black lines arranged in a graph pattern. An Amsler grid consists of straight lines, with a reference dot in the center. Someone with macular degeneration would see some of the lines blurred or wavy, with some dark areas at the center.

What are some of the tests that can aid the detection of AMD?
• Dilated Eye Exams
• Photos and Fluorescein Angiogram
• Visual Fields
• Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) “Laser Scan”

Is macular degeneration curable?
No, Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the macula, and at present, is considered an incurable eye disease, because it causes a permanent damage. The treatment can slow or even stop the progression of the wet form, so the early detection is crucial.

What macular degeneration treatments are currently available?
Dry Form – Nutritional Supplements and Monitor-Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Omega 3
Wet Form – Lucentis, Avastin and Eylea Injections

• Lucentis is considered the “gold standard” in a group of anti-angiogenic drugs. It acts against the growth of the new blood vessels of wet or exudative macular degeneration.
• Avastin was originally developed to treat colon cancer. It uses the same antiangiogenic approach to stop the growth of blood vessels to the cancer tumor.
• EYLEA injected every other month was shown to be comparable to Lucentis, when injected monthly. Side effects were similar to other injected drugs, most commonly discomfort and redness at the site of the injection
Patients with vision problems caused by macular degeneration often can benefit from low vision devices to help them read, use a computer and more.