Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for people age 55 and older. There are an estimated 10 million Americans living with this incurable eye disease. Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the macula.
This area is the area of the eye that records the images that we see and sends them from the optic nerve to the brain. The macula is responsible for central vision and controls our ability to see fine detail, recognize faces, and our ability to drive a car.
What causes macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is hereditary, meaning it can be passed on from parents to children. If someone in your family has or had the condition you may be at higher risk for developing the disease. There are two types of macular degeneration:
Dry Macular Degeneration: The “dry” type of macular degeneration leads to thinning and pigment clump formation of the macula. Dry macular degeneration is the most common form of macular degeneration. It tends to progress more slowly than the “wet” type. The amount of central vision that is lost is related to how severely the macula is affected.
Wet Macular Degeneration: With “wet” macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and macula. These new blood vessels may then bleed and leak fluid, causing the macula to swell and lift. When this happens central vision becomes distorted. Vision loss may be quite rapid and severe.
- a gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly
- objects appear to be distorted in shape and straight lines appear wavy or crooked
- a loss of clear vision
- a dark area appearing in the center of vision
There is a simple test called Amsler Grid Test that allows you to monitor your vision at home. This tool is important for recognizing and monitoring this disease. It is recommended that the test be done at least twice a week.
Currently, there is no curative treatment for “dry” macular degeneration. However, certain vitamin and mineral supplements have been shown to slow its progression. Dr. Fedyk recommends ocular vitamins, which many studies have shown can slow the progression of macular degeneration. If you develop “wet” macular degeneration, it is important that it is discovered early. Certain procedures such as laser or medication injections into the eye can treat and sometimes reverse the damage caused by wet macular degeneration.
Now, a relatively new device, essentially an implantable telescope, is available to offer hope for those “aging eyes.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT), which works like the telephoto lens of a camera, in 2010.
The surgical procedure involves removing the eye’s natural lens, as with cataract surgery, and replacing the lens with the IMT. The tiny telescope is implanted behind the iris, the colored, muscular ring around the pupil.
“While it doesn’t cure AMD, it will help improve the vision of patients, and help them resume their favorite activities and independence,” -Dr. Adam Fedyk.
If are interested in the telescopic lens, please contact Dr. Fedyk and book an appointment at the St. Louis Eye Institute.