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Macular degeneration is a common eye problem among older people. This condition mainly affects central vision, but does not cause total blindness. It occurs due to the breakdown of the inner layers of the macula. Macula is the centre of the retina and it helps to have clear vision. Though it does not cause complete vision loss, it can affect your daily activities such as difficulty in reading a newspaper, identifying faces, etc.

This condition is also known as age-related macular degeneration as it occurs as you get older. Macular degeneration can affect either one eye or both eyes.

Types of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is of two types namely:

  • Dry Macular degeneration: Most types of macular degeneration are dry type. If you have dry macular degeneration, then you may have small yellow deposits called drusens in your macula. If the deposits are small, they may not affect your vision. But if the deposits are in large size, then your vision gets affected.
  • Wet Macular degeneration: It is the less common type of macular degeneration. It occurs when unstable blood vessels grow under the retina and macula. Blood and fluid may leak from these blood vessels and flow into the retina. This leads to dark spots in the central vision. It is a severe type and can gradually lead to permanent loss of central vision.

Common Signs of Macular Degeneration

If you have macular degeneration, you may not have any signs until the condition progresses. However, the following are the common signs:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty reading in low light
  • Poor central vision in one or both eyes
  • Visual distortions such as straight lines seem to be curvy
  • Difficulty to identify faces
  • Dark spots or blank spots in the central vision

If you have any of the above-mentioned signs, consider visiting your doctor at the earliest possible.

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

The exact reason for why macular degeneration occurs is unknown. It mainly occurs due to the natural ageing process. It is believed to be due to inherited genes. The following are some of the risk factors for developing macular degeneration:

  • Smoking
  • Family history of macular degeneration
  • Heart disease
  • Exposure to UV
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Being obese
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Infections
  • Head injuries
  • Lack of essential nutrients
  • Eating excess saturated fats

How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Macular degeneration does not show any signs in the early stages. Hence it is important to have annual eye examinations if you are above 50 years of age. This will help your doctor to detect the condition early and decide on a treatment plan.

The doctor will first conduct an eye exam and will ask about your medical history and your family’s medical history.  During the eye exam, the doctor tries to look for signs of macular degeneration and any changes to your macula and retina. The doctor may also conduct other tests such as:

  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Amsler grid test
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Indocyanine green angiography

Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration

The damage caused by macular degeneration cannot be reversed and there is no cure for this condition. If the condition is detected in the early stages, steps can be taken to slow down the condition from progressing and to reduce the signs.

There are no medical treatments for dry macular degeneration. But the following can slow down the progression of dry macular degeneration:

  • Nutritional supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Copper, etc.
  • Following a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating nutritious food
  • Practising regular exercise
  • Maintaining a normal blood pressure
  • Getting regular eye tests to identify problems early

If wet macular degeneration is detected early, it can be treated but cannot be cured completely. The treatment options include:

  • Regular drug injections to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels
  • Photodynamic therapy focuses on sealing the leaky blood vessels
  • Laser therapy can also be used to seal the leaky blood vessels

Visit Think Eye Hospital Today If You Have Any Signs of Macular Degeneration

If you have any signs of macular degeneration, consider visiting an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. The ophthalmologists at Think Eye Hospital have a combined experience of more than 35 years. Our motive is to make our services available for everyone and we have operated over 35,000 cases in Hyderabad. We provide comprehensive diagnostic, medical and surgical eye care services through the latest in technology. To know more about the hospital, call us today.