As we age we become more prone to certain conditions. Specific body organs or systems may have a weakness that comes about as the result of aging. Such is the condition called macular degeneration which is so common in older ages that it is referred to as “age-related macular degeneration.” (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration does not hurt. However it is progressive and ultimately the ability to see can be totally compromised although the victim can still see peripherally. Essentially the patient develops a dark spot in the middle of the visual field.
The people who get the condition are reasonably specific. People over age 55 are at high risk. In fact two million people are affected every year.
Also Caucasians, people with blue eyes, people who have smoked people with high blood pressure and heart disease are at risk.
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration dry and wet which are just what they sound like. One has no type of drainage and one does. Dry age related macular degeneration is not as deadly as wet AMD.
Dry AMD is responsible for 90 percent of all cases. Wet AMD is responsible for just 10 percent but it is also responsible for 90 percent of blindness. Further dry AMD can evolve to wet AMD.
There is no medical treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration.
For dry AMD people are simply told to stop smoking, watch cardiovascular risk factors and eat green-leafy vegetables.
There are treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration but they are painful and the effectiveness is at times questionable.
The reason that wet age-related macular degeneration is so dangerous is that “smooth blood vessels start growing beneath the retina and they cause bleeding or swelling in the macula.”
The treatments for wet AMD include:
Abnormal blood vessels can be “burned” by hot laser. The problem is that the normal blood vessels may be burned as well.
In the year 2000 the treatment known as “photodynamic therapy” was approved. This is a two step process that consists of the intravenous introduction of the sensitizer drug verteprofin before the laser treatment.
Macugen was introduced in 2004 as an injection directly into the eye every six weeks. It slows down the way that the eye deteriorates but does not have the capability to regenerate the eye.
Finally in 2006 drugs Lucentis and Avastin were introduced. They also were injected directly into the eye but they did help with improved vision nearly the half the time.
There really is no comfortable treatment at this time because injections must be done over and over.
While research continues, the very best thing to do if you are at risk is begin to get eye exams early and often.
“Age-Related Macular Degeneration,” Article, Kamal, Kishore Dr. “Healthy Cells Magazine,” April 2009