There are many types of macular degeneration but by far the most common is age-related macular degeneration or “AMD”. AMD always starts in a form called “dry” macular degeneration. Dry AMD can, but usually does not, lead to severe vision loss. About 10% of patients with AMD develop “wet” macular degeneration. This unfortunate 10%, however, accounts for 90% of the AMD patients who experience severe vision loss from the disease. People who smoke, are hypertensive or have generalized cardiovascular disease are more likely to develop AMD and are also more likely to develop this complication.
AMD is largely genetic in origin. As the name implies, it is also very much related to age and is becoming much more frequent as our population ages.
Patients who have significant AMD usually first notice difficulty with reading or doing other detail-oriented near tasks. The diagnosis and severity are usually determined by a dilated, binocular examination.
Sometimes additional tests are required to fully evaluate the disease process. If necessary, we at Pacific Vision Medical Center have the sophisticated technology required to perform fluorescein angiography and ocular coherence tomography.
There is no known cure for AMD. However, for patients with dry AMD there is good evidence that cessation of smoking, control of high blood pressure and nutritional supplementation can lessen the likelihood of progression to wet AMD & severe vision loss.
There are many treatments for wet AMD. None are perfect. Many lasers have been used with some success, either alone or in combination with a drug called Visudyne.
But the exciting news is that treatment options are currently expanding very rapidly. Newer drug therapies such as Lucentis and Avastin have much better success rates than any of the past treatments that have been used. Many other treatments are in various stages of evaluation.
The doctors at Pacific Vision Medical Center keep up on the latest information in AMD therapy and will make the best recommendation for you based on examination and special testing as appropriate.
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