Guide To Macular Degeneration Treatment And Prevention

September 23, 2023

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among adults in the United States. More than ten million Americans have this condition, which is more than those with glaucoma and cataracts combined. There is not currently a cure for the disease. The illness occurs when the central part of the retina begins to deteriorate. The retina is made up of light-sensing cells that record images and transmit them along the optic nerve and into the brain. The central part is the macula, which is responsible for focusing an individual's central vision. The macula is what allows individuals to recognize faces, recognize colors, see the fine details of objects, drive a car, and read. There are two types of macular degeneration, and age-related macular degeneration has three stages.

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Laser Therapy

One of the potential treatments for macular degeneration is laser therapy, a surgical procedure that helps seal the blood vessels leaking in the eyes. While it won't cure the disease, it can help low the progression of the deterioration, allowing patients to retain their central vision for longer. The dry type of macular degeneration leads to slow breaking down of the light-sensing cells within the retina, and the level to which vision is affected varies. The wet type is caused by the formation of abnormal blood vessels beneath the retina. Laser surgery can't help the dry form, but it can help with certain cases of wet macular degeneration. Two types of laser therapy are available. Hot laser treatments are used to seal the leaking vessels within the retina and slow their growth, but unfortunately, it can destroy the tissue surrounding the vessels, leading to a small blind spot in the vision. Cold laser treatment might be capable of destroying the vessels without destroying nearby tissue, but it's only available for vessels underneath or near the center of the macula.

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Anti-Angiogenic Drugs

Anti-angiogenic drugs are used to treat the wet type of macular degeneration. During the procedure, the doctor will inject the medication directly into the patient's eye. The drugs block the abnormal vessels that currently exist from leaking. In addition, they help prevent the formation of new blood vessels, allowing the progression of the disease to slow. The medications are effective enough that some patients who take them have regained part of the vision they've lost. It still isn't a cure, though, which means the blood vessels will eventually start to form again. Many patients opt to have the treatment repeated periodically in follow-up visits to continue preventing the progression of macular degeneration. New blood vessels are formed through a process called angiogenesis. During this process, endothelial cells migrate to different parts of the body, grow, and become differentiated. These cells line blood vessels. In addition to treating macular degeneration, anti-angiogenic drugs are used to treat cancer by preventing tumors from growing and spreading further.

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Prescription Glasses

Many individuals over sixty years old have to contend with macular degeneration. The condition is different from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, which are corrected through the use of a lens that corrects an abnormality in the shape of the eye. But because macular degeneration involves a deterioration of the eye, many patients mistakenly believe glasses can't help. This isn't the case. There are specialized glasses created for macular degeneration patients. They can provide enhancements in both near and far vision typical glasses won't offer. The stage of macular degeneration a patient is in has a big impact on the type of eyewear that will work best for them. Low vision glasses help with macular degeneration by using high-powered magnification capabilities to reduce a patient's blind spots. Individuals can also get lenses with specialized coatings and tints to reduce glare, improve light transmission, and improve contrasts. Distance vision glasses are used to improve an individual's central vision of faraway items by using small telescopes or binoculars mounted on glasses.

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Consume A Balanced Diet

With wet macular degeneration, most treatments focus on stopping the growth and leaking of new blood vessels. However, the dry type doesn't include abnormal vessels. Instead, it's caused by the progressive deterioration of retinal cells without leaking blood vessels. One of the first lines of treatment for dry macular degeneration is to consume a balanced diet. It won't cure the disease, but it will help slow the progression and allow for greater symptom management. Many vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, which are essential for eye health, including the preservation of eye tissue and the preservation of vision. Some vegetables with high antioxidants are squash, broccoli, spinach, and kale. Research has indicated foods rich in zinc might also be beneficial for individuals with macular degeneration. Most of the foods with high zinc levels are animal products like lamb, pork, beef, cheese, milk, and yogurt. However, if individuals have to limit dairy or meat intake, they can also get zinc from whole-wheat bread and whole-grain cereals. Healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil are also good.

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Protect Eyes From The Sun

If individuals have macular degeneration, one of the most important things they can do to prevent further degeneration is to protect their eyes from sunlight. There is a growing body of research indicating exposure to the UV light in the sun's rays can accelerate the progression of macular degeneration. However, more research is necessary to determine exactly why or how the progression changes. One analysis of studies showed twelve out of the fourteen studies indicated greater exposure to sunlight was correlated with an increased risk of developing macular degeneration. If an individual is at risk of developing this condition or is in the early stages, they should protect their eyes. This means wearing sunglasses, avoiding bright and direct sunlight, and taking any other protective measures suggested by a doctor. Individuals shouldn't feel the need to hide from the sun, but should take precautions.

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