February 26, 2021
Let’s Talk About Age-Related Macular Degeneration
What better time to focus on causes of vision loss than as we close out the month of February which is designated by Prevent Blindness as national Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) awareness month. If left untreated, AMD as it is commonly referred, is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans aged 65 years and older. Regardless of age, many of your lifestyle choices can increase your risks of developing AMD including smoking, high blood pressure and lack of physical activity just to name a few. Early detection is critical and with recent treatment advances changing the course of the disease, AMD is more manageable than ever when you are in the care of a retina doctor in Iowa at Wolfe Eye Clinic. Wolfe Eye Clinic is proud to be a part of many recent retina disease treatment trials and our retina surgeons strive for ways to help with advancements in saving and maintain the vision of those that suffer from retinal disease conditions.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a retina disease associated with aging that gradually destroys the central sharp vision damaging retinal tissues and causing blocked arteries. Whether you are looking at something close or far, you cannot see the fine details as the disease affects the macula. The macula is the central area of the retina that allows a person to see fine detail and is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye. Driving, identifying faces and watching television all need central vision to be able to perform these daily common tasks. The outermost peripheral vision will not be affected as the central vision is. For example, if you were looking at a clock with hands with AMD you may see the clock’s numbers but not the hands. For some, macular degeneration can take years to develop. Often it is so slow that until vision loss occurs it goes unnoticed.
There are two types of macular degeneration; wet AMD and dry AMD. All AMD starts out as dry AMD and can turn wet. Your eye doctor can determine what type of AMD is present and refer you to a retina doctor in Iowa at Wolfe Eye Clinic to determine a treatment plan. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology about 8 out of 10 people who have AMD, have the dry form.
Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration
In dry AMD, also called non-neovascular AMD, occurs when parts of the macula start to age and where the light-sensitive cells slowly degenerate or break down causing gradual blurring, vision loss or distortion. In wet AMD, also called neovascular AMD, occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak fluid or blood into the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be fragile and are not as strong as the old retinal tissues. This can cause scarring and permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, creating permanent blind or blurry spots in the central vision.
Watch our macular degeneration video below for an in- depth explanation on the difference from our very own Wolfe Eye Clinic retina surgeons!
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
There is no cure for macular degeneration and currently there is not a treatment for dry AMD. But many have found that by taking a combination of certain vitamins, minerals and supplements have benefited them, such as an AREDS vitamin. At Wolfe Eye Clinic, our retina specialists are actively investigating new potential treatments for geographic atrophy, which is a severe form of dry AMD. Read more about that on our recent blog here!
In the past there wasn’t a treatment for wet AMD either, fortunately now there are treatments that can stop the progression and even improve vision. There are several different medications used in treating wet AMD. Intravitreal injections of medicine into the eye are most often used in treating wet AMD by blocking the harmful signals that cause leakage of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. Typically injections are given monthly, and in some cases can be spaced farther out depending on response to treatment. Wolfe Eye Clinic has a long history of participation and involvement in national studies over the years in clinical trials for AMD. While there is still no cure for either wet or dry AMD, Wolfe Eye Clinic will continue to be involved in these recent treatment advances and clinical trials.
Learn more about eye injections here.
Watch our video below for an easy explanation on what you can expect with an eye injection for macular degeneration from our very own Wolfe Eye Clinic retina surgeons!
Our retina specialists at Wolfe Eye Clinic have expertise in treating macular degeneration and offer care and surgery for retina diseases in Iowa with locations in Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Spencer, Waterloo, and Pleasant Hill. If you have any macular degeneration questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (833) 474-5850 or request information here.