Macular degeneration is an eye disease that is the most common cause of blindness, especially in Caucasians who are 65+ years old. It affects over 10 million people in the United States. This is more than glaucoma and cataracts put together. The condition is caused by deterioration of the central part of the retina, which is called the macula. This part of the eye controls central vision and, thus, enables people to read, drive, see the fine details of objects and recognize colors or faces. While patients with advanced macular degeneration still have some peripheral vision, they are legally blind.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Atrophic or “dry” macular degeneration is the most common type and affects 85 to 90 percent of patients. In the “dry” type, small, yellow deposits called drusen form under the macula and eventually cause it to become abnormally thin and dry.
In exudative or “wet” macular degeneration, new and abnormal blood vessels called choroidal neovascularization (CNV) start to grow under the retina and macula. The blood vessels sometimes leak fluid that causes the macula to bulge, and that bulging distorts the patient’s central vision. The “Wet” form of the condition tends to progress more quickly than the “dry” one.
Stargardt disease is a rare type of macular degeneration caused by a genetic defect. Unlike the other types, which affect older people, Stargardt disease affects children and teenagers. It is usually diagnosed in youngsters who are between six and twenty years old.
How is the Condition Treated?
While there is currently no cure for macular degeneration, there are treatments that can slow the disease’s progression. The National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health conducted a large study that found some supplements can help people slow the disease’s progression by over 25 percent. Nutrients that can slow the condition include lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, copper and zinc oxide. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in these nutrients also helps. Taking or eating the listed supplements can also reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.
A common method for treating the “wet” form is administering anti-VEGF medications that target the chemical that causes abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina. The chemical is called the vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF. Dr. Patel can skillfully administer the anti-VEGF drug during an outpatient procedure in the comfort of our office.
“Wet” macular degeneration can also be treated through photodynamic therapy (PDT) and laser treatments. In both cases, the light or laser safely damages the abnormal blood vessels. Since the blood vessels sometimes grow back, the patient may need repeated treatments.
Contact Our Office Today
Make an appointment with Dr. Patel at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita to learn more about your treatment options. We are proud to offer a variety of treatments ranging from macular degeneration and glaucoma treatments to LASIK, iStent surgery and laser cataract surgery. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!