Macular Degeneration Treatment in Huntington Beach
19671 Beach Blvd. Suite 400 Huntington Beach, California 92648
Macular Degeneration, also known as Age Related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the older population of Americans, more than any other eye condition including cataracts and glaucoma. It is more prevalent in Caucasians and females. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and people with lighter eye color. Evidence suggests smoking and side effects from certain drugs can also be risk factors for Macular Degeneration.
There are two types of Macular Degeneration: “dry AMD” or non-neovascular and “wet AMD” or neovascular. Dry AMD makes up 85 to 90 percent of the two types, and wet AMD being 10 to 15 percent.
There are three stages of dry AMD:
Early AMD – There is usually no visual loss in this early stage of AMD. Your eye doctor will see these beginning stages in the back of the eye presented as yellowish deposits beneath the retina known as “Drusen”.
Intermediate AMD – There may or may not be noticeable visual signs or symptoms at this stage; however there will be larger drusen and/or pigment changes in the retina.
Late AMD – There will be noticeable vision loss at this stage.
Early signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration include fuzzy, grayish, shadowy areas in the central vision or distorted images in the central vision.
If your ophthalmologist suspects AMD through a retinal exam, an Amsler grid test may be done to measure your central vision. An Amsler grid consists of a graph of black lines with a reference dot in the center of the graph. Looking at it one eye at a time, a patient might see the lines as wavy or blurry, or may see gray areas in the center of the graph.
Dry AMD can also progress to wet AMD.
Wet Macular Degeneration occurs when new blood vessels form and grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid creating scarring, and sometimes severe permanent damage to the retinal cells causing blind spots in the central vision.
There are no cures for wet or dry Macular Degeneration, however there are some treatments that may delay the progression or improve vision, sometimes dramatically.
A healthy nutritious diet and exercise are believed to help prevent the progression of dry AMD to wet AMD.
There are FDA approved drugs that can improve vision in wet AMD that a retina specialist can prescribe and administer for these patients.
Dr. Vicken Karageozian is working on a new drug to improve vision in Dry AMD. If successful, it will be the only one available.
Frequently Asked Questions About Macular Degeneration
How does macular degeneration affect vision?
Macular degeneration causes a gradual decline in central vision. The macula is the portion of the retina responsible for vision in our direct line of sight.
In the early stages of macular degeneration, known as dry macular degeneration, many patients do not notice any visual signs or symptoms. As the disease advances into wet macular degeneration, central vision starts to deteriorate. Faces may be difficult to recognize and printed words may appear blurry. Eventually, blind spots can appear in the central visual field.
Other symptoms of macular degeneration can include visual distortions, such as straight lines that appear wavy, and the need for brighter light when reading.
What is the difference between dry and wet AMD?
In dry AMD, the more common type of AMD, yellowish deposits of cellular debris called drusen accumulate beneath the retina.
In wet AMD, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina. Unlike healthy blood vessels, the new blood vessels are very fragile and leak blood and fluid. This can cause the destruction of retinal cells and lead to the formation of blind spots in the central field of vision.
Is it possible to get AMD in only one eye?
Yes, some patients first develop macular degeneration in only one eye. As the disease gets worse, it tends to affect the other eye, too.
How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
A dilated eye exam is required to diagnose AMD. The doctor checks for the presence of drusen, pigment changes or other abnormalities affecting the macula and the rest of the retina. A visual acuity exam is performed to determine the quality of your vision. Also, the eye doctor may show you an Amsler grid, which resembles graph paper, and ask you whether the lines of the grid appear wavy or distorted.
Is there any way to prevent AMD?
There is no guaranteed way to completely avoid getting macular degeneration. You can reduce your chances by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as not smoking, eating vitamin-rich foods and protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The earlier AMD is detected, the easier it is to successfully manage it with minimally invasive therapies. For the best chances of early detection, see your eye doctor regularly for comprehensive eye exams. Also, be aware of your personal risk factors — if you are at an increased risk of macular degeneration, you may need to have exams more frequently than the average person.
What are anti-VEGF drugs?
Anti-VEGF drugs are a group of medicines used to treat wet AMD.
Vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, is a protein that stimulates the production of new blood vessels. If the body’s cells produce too much VEGF, it can lead to the formation of fragile, abnormal blood vessels in wet AMD and other retinal diseases.
When injected into the eye, anti-VEGF drugs inhibit the growth of the new, abnormal blood vessels and slow down vision loss to wet AMD. The eye is completely numbed prior to the injections to reduce pain and discomfort.