1. What is macular degeneration? (Can you provide a general and basic description of the disease)
Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), is an age-related disease that causes loss of vision in the central part of the vision, coinciding with the macula.
There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry.
2. Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?
Anyone over the age of 50 is at a higher risk for the disease. Also, there is a 50% higher risk for developing the disease if someone in the family has been diagnosed with it.
3. What is Dry AMD?
Dry AMD is the result of atrophy of one of the layers of the retina, known as the retinal pigment epithelium. This typically results in mild to moderate loss of central vision through loss of the photoreceptors.
4. What is Wet AMD?
Wet AMD causes abnormal blood vessel growth which leads to bleeding and protein leakage below the macula. This type of macular degeneration typically causes severe vision loss.
6. There has been talk about the link between certain vitamins and minerals and the prevention of macular degeneration. Which nutrients should we be consuming (if any), and in what forms?
Vitamins include zinc, lutein, Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids and these vitamins can come in the form of oral tablets that are specifically made for the eyes, or they can come in the foods we eat. Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, whole grains, and cold water fish are examples of these foods.
7. What are some treatment options for macular degeneration?
There is no true treatment option for dry macular degeneration, however, there are specific vitamins that your doctor can recommend to slow down the progression of the disease. There are several different injections that can be given in the eye to treat forms of wet macular degeneration. There are also laser procedures that can be done to help slow down the progression.
8. How successful are these treatments?
These treatments are not often successful in restoring one’s vision, however, they are proven useful in stopping or slowing down the progression of the disease.
9. Are there any new and exciting treatment approaches or technologies on the horizon?
In late 2013, researchers were evaluating a therapy known as stereotactic radiotherapy for the treatment of wet AMD. This therapy is currently being used in the UK and is showing promise.
10. What are the most common misconceptions that people have about macular degeneration?
The most common misconception about AMD is that everyone with the disease will go blind, however, 90% of patients with AMD have the less severe, dry AMD, which results in much less vision loss.
11. Is there a cure?
Currently there is no cure for AMD, however, treatments have been shown to work better if applied early during the episode of bleeding.