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Macular Degeneration - Early Detection and Prevention

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a frightening vision disorder, which is normally associated with old age, but can occur earlier in life. The center of vision is lost, but peripheral vision is maintained. The condition can progress slowly or very rapidly. Early detection can prevent vision loss.

Click to View the Interactive Macular Degeneration Vision Test

The macula is the center of the retina. When you see, light is focused on the retina, which processes the image. The macula processes the center of vision including fine tasks and reading. There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • Dry AMD is the most common form, affecting about 85% to 90% of people with macular degeneration. Small deposits form in the macula, blurring central vision.
  • Wet AMD is less common, but progresses much more quickly and causes more severe damage to vision. Abnormal blood vessels form behind the macula, leak fluid and form scar tissue.

Early detection is the key to saving vision. Wet macular degeneration progresses very quickly, but progression can be stopped with laser treatment. The only known treatment for dry AMD is nutritional support. If you experience any symptoms of AMD you must see your eye doctor immediately. Symptoms include:

  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Dark or empty spots in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty or inability to see details such as faces or words on a page
  • Difficulty seeing at a distance
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors

Treatments for wet macular degeneration
The first step is to stop the progress of the damage. Laser treatment or photodynamic therapy is used to stop the fluid from leaking. Macugen and Lucentis are the two primary drugs used to treat wet AMD. Both drugs attack the protein that causes the abnormal vessel growth, and are administered by an injection into the eye. These drugs can slow or stop the progression and in many patients help to restore lost vision.

Treatment for dry macular degeneration
At this time the only treatment for dry AMD is nutritional support. Nutrients which have been successful in slowing or stopping the progression of damage and restoring lost vision include:

  • Zinc
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • CoQ10
  • L-Carnitine
  • Taurine

Fresh vegetable juice is a great source of many of the nutrients needed to treat dry AMD.
Causes and prevention
The cause of macular degeneration is not really known. Genetic predisposition seems to play a large role in who will and will not develop AMD. All of the nutritional support that is used to treat the condition can also help to prevent it from developing in the first place. People with a family history of macular degeneration should implement a prevention program as early in life as possible. Some contributing factors for AMD have been identified. Prevention depends largely on eliminating or minimizing habits and conditions including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet

Macular degeneration can cause permanent vision loss or blindness. Prevention and early detection can save your eyesight.

If you have noticed symptoms of macular degeneration, contact your eye doctor today. The Buckley Vision Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado specializes in eye disorders and prevention techniques among other eye care procedures.

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