What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related Macular Degeneration (or AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in people over 60. It results from a breakdown of the macula, the primary part of the retina, responsible for seeing details. Once this happens, central vision can be severely impacted – your vision can become blurry, distorted, or you may even experience loss of vision.
Macular Degeneration is classified into two types: dry age-related macular degeneration, and wet age-related macular degeneration.
- In dry Age-related macular degeneration, the retina tissue grows thinner, and fatty protein deposits can form underneath the retina. While dry age related macular degeneration doesn’t always produce symptoms of vision loss, it does increase the risk of developing the more serious form of the disease, wet age-related macular degeneration.
- In wet age-related macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels form under the macula. These new blood vessels are prone to leaking, which disrupts the normal functioning of the macula, causing blurring, or distortion of central vision, and possibly even blindness.
What is the treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration?
There is no real treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration beyond diligent monitoring of disease progression, and taking preventative measure against developing wet age-related macular degeneration.
- Routine self examination with an amsler grid is important to monitor any changes in your vision.
- Research has shown that a diet rich in antioxidants can help with disease progression. Foods such as spinach, berries, orange peppers and kale are good examples of antioxidants.
- Taking vitamins has also been shown to fight against progression to the wet type of macular degeneration.
- Dry macular degeneration has also been linked to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and so aggressive monitoring for and management of these conditions is also warranted.
- Smoking has been shown to cause macular degeneration.
What is the treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration?
In order to halt, or even reverse the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye, medication is administered into the eye by injection. The medication is an antibody that binds to the protein responsible for creating the abnormal bloody vessels. As the medication takes effect, the abnormal blood vessels shrink, and new blood vessels are prevented from forming.
What do I need to do to prepare for surgery?
An eye injection is a very safe procedure. In it, Dr. Sharma will carefully place a small needle through the white part of the eye so that the tip of the needle will be located in front of the macula. Once there, medication will be injected into the eye and it will spread into the macula. You should not drive yourself to an eye injection appointment as many drops and freezing can interfere with your vision, making driving difficult.
What should I expect during surgery?
During the surgery, drops and chemicals will be used to sterilize the eye and the eye lids, to lower the risk of an eye infection. The eye will also be frozen using a jelly that will be applied to the front of the eye. An eye speculum will be inserted to control your eyelids. This is necessarily for Dr. Sharma to safely perform the procedure. A small needle will then be carefully inserted through the white part of the eye, in the space just behind the lens and in front of the retina. You might be aware of a “pressure” feeling when the needle goes into the eye. It is common to notice black spots or floaters just after having an eye injection. This is usually related to air bubbles getting in the eye after an injection. These usually only last for a few days. After the procedure, the eye will be washed out to get rid of the chemicals that were used clean and freeze the eye.
What do I need to do after the procedure?
Following the procedure, Dr. Sharma recommends that you take antibiotic eye drops for a week to prevent any infection from occurring around the site of the surgery. Because Dr. Sharma uses a strong agent to freeze the eye, you should make sure not to rub the eye after an eye injection. This can cause scratching of the surface of the eye. While this is a very safe procedure, many patients will note temporary floaters (usually these will go away in a few days), temporary bleeding or bruising from the injection site and mild ocular irritation. If you develop severe eye pain after an injection you need to notify us immediately as this could represent an eye infection that is developing.