Age Related Macular Degeneration

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☛ What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?
Many older people develop degeneration in the macula (which is the cental part of the retina responsible for crisp, clear and sharp vision) as part of the aging process in the body. This is called Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

☛ What are the symptoms of ARMD?
In a patient with ARMD, there will be symptoms such as loss of clarity while reading, blurred vision, dark areas or distortion in central vision (when things appear curved or fussy) and over time permanent loss of central vision. The peripheral vision is usually spared until the late stage of the disease.

☛ What are the different types of ARMD?
There are broadly two types of ARMD

  • Dry ARMD
    This type is common in the early stages of ARMD. It is seen in a majority of patients (90%) suffering from this disorder. It occurs when the light sensitive cells in the macular slows degenerate leading to blurring of vision and overtime loss of central vision. The visual loss is gradual and not reversible. Therefore, patients need to monitor their central vision regularly. If any change is noticed, an ophthalmologist needs to be contacted immediately.

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  • Wet ARMD
    This type of ARMD is relatively rare affecting nearly 10% of the patients with ARMD. Nevertheless, this more severe than dry ARMD and causes severe, irreversible loss of central vision within a relatively short span of time. Wet macular degeneration develops when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macular. These new blood vessels are structurally weak and therefore leak blood and fluid in the macula and cause the macula to swell thereby resulting in loss of central vision.

☛ What are the symptoms of ARMD?
If a person notices any new distortion (seeing straight lines curved or fussy, noticing distortion of a grid pattern like squares) or blurred vision he should report to the doctor immediately. Early detection of the ARMD is the key to successful treatment of the disease which will prevent further visual loss.
 
☛ Can ARMD be prevented?
The exact cause of ARMD is not known. Thought it cannot be prevented, a healthy lifestyle without smoking and intake of a balanced, good diet may reduce the risk.
 
☛ What is the treatment for ARMD?
High dose multi vitamins containing anti – oxidants have been shown to decrease the risk of visual loss in patients with dry ARMD. The anti – oxidants specifically slow down macular cell death.
There are several treatment options for wet ARMD although the best outcome occurs when this disease is diagnosed and treated early. The various treatment modalities include

  • Thermal laser (Photo dynamic therapy)
  • Anti – VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors) like Lucentics, Avasin or Macugen OR
  • A combination of these