Macular degeneration affects cells in the macula,
which is the part of the retina responsible for central vision.
Central vision is essential for most basic tasks like reading, driving,
recognizing people, etc. Thus, although macular degeneration leaves
peripheral vision un-impaired, it can be quite debilitating in its
The disease exists in two forms, dry and wet.
Dry macular degeneration
is by far the most common (roughly 90% of all cases). However, it is
the milder of the two forms, develops gradually, and usually leads to
only minor vision loss. Dry macular degeneration tends to occur when
yellow fatty particles called drusen accumulate in the retina
underneath the macula. This build-up results in thinning and
drying-out of the macular cells.
Wet macular degeneration
is less common, but the vast majority of severe vision loss cases
result from this form. First, abnormal blood vessels form underneath
the surface of the retina. Leakage of blood and other fluids from
these blood vessels permanently damage the outside cells (which detect
incoming light). As these cells are damaged, vision is lost.
The primary cause of macular degeneration remains
unknown. Macular degeneration typically occurs more frequently in the
aging population with patients over 60. Research has shown there are
many other factors such as family history, smoking, hypertension,
obesity, and/or a high cholesterol, high fat diet that may contribute
towards the development of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration symptoms may include:
Shadows, blurriness, or holes in the center of vision.
Straight lines appear wavy.
Trouble seeing details both up close and at a distance.
Difficulty telling colors apart, especially ones close in hue.
Vision can be slow to come back after bright light exposure.
Treatment for dry macular degeneration:
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the dry
form of macular degeneration. Those at high risk should schedule a
checkup with their ophthalmologist at least once every one to two
years, to catch the disease in its infancy. Also, it is thought that
dietary supplementation of antioxidants and zinc may help to slow its
There is also no cure for wet macular degeneration.
There are, however, several treatments designed to combat the disease.
Early detection is very important because once vision is lost there is
no treatment to regain it.
Treatments for wet macular degeneration:
Laser photocoagulation: Seals abnormal
blood vessels with a heated laser. This treatment will sometimes halt
the disease, thus saving the remaining vision of a patient. However,
the laser leaves a scar, creating a permanent blind spot in the
patient’s vision. The treatment is only applicable to a small segment
of cases, in which some vision is sacrificed to save remaining vision.
Photodynamic therapy: Employs a
light-activated drug and a “cold” laser. The drug is injected
intravenously. Then the doctor shines the laser on the affected area,
which activates the drug in the targeted tissue and blocks the leaking
blood vessels. This procedure leaves no scar, and may be repeated
several times as necessary.
Anti-angiogenesis drugs: These inhibit
proteins which contribute to abnormal blood vessel growth. They are
known as anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs.
There are a variety of drugs that can be applicable for this purpose,
some FDA approved, and some off-label (officially approved for a
If you are experiencing any symptoms of macular degeneration, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation.
As a leading Las Vegas laser eye surgery specialist, Dr. Casey is proud to offer his patients a variety of advanced treatments, such as LASIK, LASEK and PRK in Las Vegas. He is also renowned as a presbyopia treament expert and an experienced cataract surgery Las Vegas specialist. During cataract surgery, Dr. Casey removes patients’ lenses obscured by cataracts and replaces them with advanced IOLs, such as ReZoom, ReStor or Tecnis.
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