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About Macular Degeneration
Welcome to the Macular Degeneration Health Channel by eMedTV. Macular degeneration is a common eye disease associated with aging that blurs the sharp, central vision needed for activities such as reading and driving. About 90 percent of people with macular degeneration have what's known as the "dry" type, and the remaining 10 percent have the "wet" type.
Causes of Macular Degeneration
The causes of macular degeneration are unknown. However, there are certain risk factors for macular degeneration, such as smoking, obesity, and family history. The greatest risk factor for macular degeneration is age. Not all people who experience these macular degeneration risk factors will develop the disease. Scientists continue to perform research on the causes of macular degeneration.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Of these, the wet form is more severe. This form of macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula, and often leak blood and fluid. Dry macular degeneration occurs in three stages: early, intermediate, and advanced. When comparing these types of macular degeneration, both lead to vision loss, and dry macular degeneration can often turn into wet macular degeneration
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Common macular degeneration symptoms include blurry vision, straight lines appearing crooked, and dark areas in the center of vision. However, these symptoms are not always associated with macular degeneration, so anyone experiencing these common macular degeneration symptoms is encouraged to see an eye care professional.
Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
When diagnosing macular degeneration, your eye doctor will ask you about your medical history and will perform a comprehensive eye exam. In order to make a diagnosis, certain tests may be performed, such as a visual acuity test, a dilated eye exam, and a fluorescein angiogram.
Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration
The treatment options for macular degeneration depend on the specific type of the disease a person has. With dry macular degeneration, certain vitamins are used to treat the condition; however, once the advanced stage is reached, no treatment can successfully treat this condition. With wet macular degeneration, treatment options include photodynamic therapy, laser surgery, and injections. Regardless of the treatment used, there is no cure for macular degeneration, and lost vision cannot be restored.
Surgery for Macular Degeneration
Surgery for macular degeneration involves the use of a laser to destroy leaky blood vessels. This surgery is only effective for people with wet macular degeneration. People with the dry type cannot be treated with surgery. Surgical procedures can prevent the loss of further vision, but repeated treatments are often necessary and there is no guarantee of the results.
Macular Degeneration Research
Doctors and scientists conducting macular degeneration research have discovered many new advances in the treatment of the disease. These research studies look at things like the effects of certain vitamins, how the cells in the retina work, and the role genetics plays in causing macular degeneration.
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