Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration is commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration or AMD due its tendency to affect older adults. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry Macular Degeneration occurs when small, yellowish deposits (drusen) begin accumulating beneath the macula. The drusen gradually break down the light-sensing cells within the macula. This break down leads to distorted vision in the eye.

Wet Macular Degeneration accounts for only 10 percent of all cases and occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin growing behind the retina, toward the macula. Typically, these abnormal blood vessels are tiny in size and leak blood and fluid, damaging the macula and causing severe and rapid vision loss. Wet macular degeneration is much more severe than the dry form. Fortunately, over that past few years, treatment for wet macular degeneration has significantly advanced. New medicines have been developed to slow down and stop problematic blood vessels from forming. These new medicines are also known to improve treatment, which was not the case with earlier treatment methods. The medicines used are called anti-angiogenic or anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs. The two most common ones are Avastin and Lucentis. The medicine is injected into the eyeball and begins taking effect immediately, although injections are typically repeated every 1 to 2 months or until the disease is stabilized.

Prevention of macular degeneration includes reducing UV exposure, not smoking, and eating healthy diets of antioxidants and zinc.  Eating foods rich in Vitamins A, C and E could help reduce chances of developing this disease. To date, some studies have suggested a protective effect from lutein and zeaxanthin. In 2006, the National Eye Institute started the AREDS II study to further determine whether lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients found in eggs and green vegetables) might indeed be protective against the disease. Exercising and keeping healthy are always good preventive methods for all diseases.

Additional ways to prevent Macular Degeneration include:
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Avoid alcohol when possible
  • Avoid all types of sugars when possible
  • Avoid excessive saturated fats and foods containing fats and oils that have been subjected to air or heat (lunch meats, hamburgers, fried foods, etc.)
  • Increase your consumption of legumes