December 18, 2017

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration and How Does it Affect the Patient?

Age related macular degeneration is a common condition that can form as we age. The disease progresses gradually in most cases and brings with it many problematic symptoms. In the early stages, these symptoms are bearable and many patients continue to live their lives independently. However in severe cases, the symptoms can become a hindrance to normal function.

There is no pain or similar discomfort associated with age related macular degeneration. The condition forms in the macula, a light sensitive tissue found at the center of the retina. It comes in two forms: wet form and dry form. In dry form, the light sensitive cells begin to deteriorate. This can lead to the slow blurring of vision which becomes spotty as the condition progresses. In wet age related macular degeneration, blood vessels grow abnormally behind the retina. As these develop, they push under the macula and can leak.  The progression is usually much faster and the patient will notice central vision loss.

Symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age related macular degeneration brings with it many symptoms that can begin to affect the patient’s life. Drusen, a small yellow or white material, can accumulate on the Bruch’s membrane. There may be pigmentary alterations and hemorrhages in the eye. Patients will also notice a loss in contrast sensitivity, distorted vision and blurred vision. When viewing a bright light, the patient will also begin to notice that their eyes take significantly longer to recover. Colors begin to look the same as well. The later stages of these symptoms can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, like driving or watching television.

What Do You Do If You Notice Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration is common, however that doesn’t mean patients diagnose with it have no options. There are treatments available that can help reverse or at least slow the effects of age related macular degeneration. The dry form cannot be reversed, but the right vitamins and supplements can make a huge difference in how long it takes for the condition to progress to later stages. Patients should seek medical advice to determine the type of age related macular degeneration they have and how to treat it.