Macular Degeneration Treatment — What You Need to Know
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We all want to maintain a sharp vision for as long as we can. However, advancements in age come with its share of vision problems. Do you know someone who’s been experiencing dark patches in their central vision area or straight lines that appear bent and wavy? These could be symptoms of Macular degeneration.
Let’s discover more about Macular degeneration and the various options for macular degeneration treatment in Singapore.
Understanding macular degeneration
Macular degeneration, better known as AMD or age-related macular degeneration is a deterioration of vision caused by old age. In developed countries, AMD is the number one cause of blindness and is among the top 4 major conditions that result in blindness in Singapore.
People who are 50 years or older are most affected by AMD.
The condition gets its name from the part of the eye that is affected. The macula is the section of the eye that allows us to see things in fine detail. This part of the eye is situated at the centre of the retina.
Patients who get AMD start out by losing the ability to see fine details. The two main types of macular degeneration include:
- Wet AMD
- Dry AMD
1. Wet Macular Degeneration
This occurs when blood vessels develop at the back of the macula causing some blood to leak into the retina. As a result, the cells in the retina begin to die. This results in blind areas or blind spots. One of the ways to tell that you are experiencing the early stages of macular degeneration is that straight lines will begin to appear wavy.
If you notice this, seek immediate medical assistance.
2. Dry Macular Degeneration
With dry macular degeneration, the cells in the retina begin to break down. This starts off by creating a blurry vision that gets worse as the cells continue to break down. Dry AMD is the more common of the two types of AMD. The first symptoms of dry macular degeneration will usually include drunsen. This is where yellow deposits are found under the retina.
What are the causes of macular degeneration?
The main cause of AMD is age. While it is not unheard of in people less than 50 years, it is far more common in people who are older than 50 years. Other factors that contribute to AMD include a history of family cases, hypertension, obesity, and smoking.
One way of drastically reducing your chances of developing macular degeneration is through leading a healthy lifestyle. You can do this through:
- Avoiding smoking
- Eating fish and a diet of green vegetables
- Seeking early treatment
- Being active and exercising
When macular degeneration advances, it is hard to restore vision and can lead to permanent blindness. This is why it is important to go for eye checkups in order to catch diseases in their early stages and when they are much easier to treat.
Treatment for macular degeneration
There are three main treatments for AMD. These include:
- Laser surgery
- Injections into the eye
- Photodynamic therapy
1. Laser surgery
Laser surgery treatment is ideal for wet macular degeneration. A laser is used to kill the blood vessels behind the retina. However, it has a downside as it can destroy healthy surrounding tissue causing damage to vision.
Furthermore, there is also a high risk of blood vessels developing again after laser treatment. In this case, the patient may require successive treatments which may, in turn, further cause vision deterioration.
2. Injections into the eye
An alternative to wet macular degeneration is using drugs injected into the eye to prevent inflammation and reverse the development of the blood vessels. The drugs used in this type of treatment include:
- Anti-angiogenesis drugs
This treatment has been shown to improve vision. That said, there may be a need for the patient to receive multiple injections.
3. Photodynamic therapy
This is a quick procedure that takes around 20 minutes to perform. It is can be performed in a doctor’s office in an eye clinic such as Asia Retina. Here the doctor injects the patient with a drug called verteporfin. This drug travels through the bloodstream and reaches the blood vessels under the macula.
On reaching these blood vessels, light is used to activate the drug and it starts to destroy the new blood vessels. For the drug activation, the doctor will shine a light into the eye.
The main benefit of verteporfin is that the surrounding tissue is not affected. The patient is required to avoid exposing their eyes to bright light whether indoors or outdoors for the next two days after treatment.
That said, it is important to note that photodynamic therapy will not reverse AMD, and doesn’t restore vision. Its main purpose is to slow down vision loss.
Note that there is no known treatment for dry macular degeneration. Once dry AMD has been caught in its early stages, the resulting treatment is focused on slowing down its development into the intermediate and advanced stages.
Asia Retina – Eye Specialist in Singapore
#15-10 The Paragon, 290 Orchard Rd,
+65 6732 0007