Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease that progressively destroys the macula, the central portion of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The centre of vision is affected, impairing ability to see straight ahead clearly and making it difficult to read, drive or carry out other activities that require fine, sharp vision. The disease occurs most commonly in those over 60 years of age, when it is termed age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two types of AMD: dry, and the much more common wet type. An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy, because newly formed blood vessels leak fluid under the macula. The fluid raises the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye and distorts vision. Another sign of wet AMD is rapid loss of central vision, whereas in dry AMD the loss happens slowly. In both types, a blind spot may be noticed. If any of these vision changes are noticed, an ophthalmologist should be consulted. For dry AMD, a combination of vitamins, antioxidants and zinc may prevent the disease from getting worse if it is not yet severe. Once it is advanced, no treatment can restore lost vision. For wet AMD, treatment may include: laser surgery to destroy the leaking, abnormal blood vessels; photodynamic therapy, in which light activates a drug that is injected into your body to destroy leaking blood vessels; and medications that prevent new blood vessels from forming in the eye. Special lenses can help you use the vision that you have more effectively.

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Dr Son Huynh is a specialist in medical retinal disorders and has extensive experience in treating age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy . . .

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