Patient Education

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration – also referred to as Age-related macular degeneration – is the gradual weakening of your macula. In fact, the macula is the small central area located in the retina (at the back of your eye). This small but essential part of the eye takes control of your visual acuity. With that being said, deteriorated or weakened macula can affect your central vision significantly and cause blurriness, distorted image, and darkened areas. In fact, as of today, macular degeneration is recognized to be the leading cause of severe vision loss particularly among the people who are above 65 years.

Macular degeneration is a result of the part of your body’s natural aging process. That is why the most common version of macular degeneration is referred to as age-related macular degeneration. In fact, AMD (age-related macular degeneration) comes in two forms.

Dry AMD/Atrophic AMD

The most common type of AMD (about ninety percent) is called dry AMD or atrophic AMD. Such condition develops when the tissues of your macula become thin as you age. The result of this dry AMD is the slow loss of vision.

Wet AMD/exudative AMD

About ten percent of people experience wet AMD or exudative AMD. In fact, wet AMD is considered to be a pretty severe condition compared to dry AMD. According to the experts, wet AMD occurs due to the abnormal growth of blood vessels. These vessels will drip both blood and fluid causing the scar on the macula. Those who experience wet AMD will face more intense vision loss faster.

Some common symptoms of macular degeneration

–    Darkened or empty patches within the vision

–    Blurring

–    Distorted vision

You cannot use medications or surgeries to treat dry AMD. However, dry AMD patients can experience significant improvement with the assistance of magnification lenses. When it comes to wet AMD, on the other hand, thermal laser, anti-VEGF injections, and thermal laser are used collectively as treatments.

Diabetic Retinopathy

The apparent result of diabetes is increased sugar levels within the body. That is because diabetes prevents your body from utilizing sugar prominently. Eventually, the blood vessels in the retina will affect, and the retinal will start to malfunction. This particular issue is commonly regarded as diabetic retinopathy. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is among the most common causes of blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy comes in two versions.

–    Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

This is the initial stage of the issue in which the retinal blood vessels start to break and leak.

–    Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the condition in which the patient will experience abnormal growth of new blood vessels. As a result of this abnormal growth conditions like vitreous hemorrhage, retinal detachment or scarring can occur. Eventually, the patient will experience vision loss.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

–    Difficulty of reading

–    Distorted or blurred vision

–    Floaters in the vision

–    Loss of vision (either partial or total)

–    Shadow or veil in the field of vision

Retinal Vascular Disease

The blood vessels have to transport blood from and to the retina. The smaller branches of retinal veins transport blood towards the larger central retinal vein. Also, it drives blood away from the eye too. In the event of blocked or obstructed veins, the patients can experience retinal vein occlusion.

Symptoms of the retinal vascular disease

–    Sudden blurring

–    Partial or complete loss of vision or one eye

Retinal vein occlusion comes in two versions.

–    Central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO)

This occurs due to obstructions in the central vein of the eye.

–    Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO)

This occurs due to obstructions in the smaller branches of blood vessels

Illnesses that may give you retinal vein occlusion

–    Diabetes

–    Glaucoma

–    High Blood Pressure

–    Cardiovascular Disease

Due to retinal vein occlusion, you may experience:

–    Macular edema

–    Swelling of the macula

–   Neovascularization (unusual growth of blood vessels)

–    Neovascular glaucoma

–    A pressure in the eye with pain

Although these conditions can be addressed with the assistance of intravitreal injections or laser surgeries, no treatment has yet been discovered for retinal vein occlusion. To prevent retinal vein occlusion, you should address the illnesses that affect your retina.

Floaters and Flashes

Floaters refer to the micro-sized objects that float obstructing your vision. These specs are significantly visible when you are looking at a plain background. In fact, these floaters will be composed of gel or cells within the vitreous. These specs appear in different shapes such as dots, lines or cobwebs. Although most of the floaters are harmless and they can fade away, they can also be a significant sign of a rip in your retina. In fact, such ripping can be an early sign of retinal detachment.

As you reach middle age, the vitreous gel in the eye can start to get thickened. Eventually, it will cause clumps within the eye. More often than not, floaters can emerge due to a condition called posterior vitreous detachment.

In some instances, a vitreous gel of the eye can rub against the retina. This is when you will experience cases such as lightning streaks or flashing lights. You may experience these flashes randomly even for months. These flashes can occur more frequently as a result of aging.

If you are experiencing any of the above facts, you should immediately visit your ophthalmologist if you see more massive, newer floaters or sudden flashes of light.

Retinal detachment

Just as the name suggests, retinal detachment is the condition in which the retina gets detached from the original position. In fact, retinal detachment is a medical emergency. If you don’t treat this condition at your earliest, it may lead to a permanent vision loss. However, retinal detachment can be identified at its first stage through the following symptoms.

–    Flashing

–    Emerging of new floaters

–    Shadows on your vision

–    Blurred vision that occurs suddenly

However, these symptoms can occur due to other health issues as well. So, the best practice is to visit your ophthalmologist at the earliest.

Most of the people don’t take these symptoms of retinal detachment seriously, and they wait hoping the conditions will fade automatically. These symptoms can be followed by loss of vision due to advance retinal detachment. When it has developed into the advanced stage, it cannot be quickly repaired; in other words, such condition can lead towards a permanent loss of vision.

The only way to address retinal detachment successfully is a surgery. Depending on the condition of the retinal detachment you experience, your ophthalmologist will recommend the type of the operation.