The macula is the part of the retina responsible for central vision, i.e. the vision required for detailed frontal focus, for activities such as reading, driving, watching TV and face recognition.
Macular Degeneration is a progressive atrophy of the layers of this central part of the retina. Though often referred to as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) as it most commonly affects people over 50 years of age, it must not be dismissed as just a normal part of aging. Macular degeneration can also be seen in other individuals with hereditary eye disease or in those with very high minus numbers or myopia. While there is no definitive cure for the condition, treatment is available to help prevent severe vision loss by notably slowing down the pace of the disease. Treatment options depend on the type of AMD, other cause of macular degeneration and the stage of the disease.
The most common form of Macular Degeneration is age related and is known as “dry” AMD. Roughly around 85% of cases present with this form of the disease. Retinal cell damage in this instance progresses slowly and symptoms can be very subtle in the early stages. It does not normally cause sudden extensive vision impairment but must be detected as early as possible and patients followed at appropriate intervals to pick up the earliest potential development of “wet” AMD which allows for long term preservation of vision.
“Wet” or neovascular AMD is the rarer but more aggressive form of the disease. It is characterized by overgrowth of new blood vessels under and into the retina. This proliferation of blood vessels and material leaking from it additionally burdens the retina through fluid leaks, intraocular bleeding and scarring. These changes usually result in rapid and notable deterioration or distortion of central vision. It can cause extensive damage or vision loss within days or weeks and therefore any new signs and symptoms of decreased vision or distortion of images in one or both eyes must not be ignored.
Macular Degeneration can be managed effectively (slowing or even halting loss of vision) if treated early on. Therefore, with or without symptoms, regular eye exams with a specialist eye doctor are always advised, and especially for people aged 50+.Our eye specialists at the Eye Center in Karachi have extensive experience in the treatment of Macular Degeneration using a range of therapies, such as:
- Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) intravitreal injections, (e.g. Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea). These substances are injected into the ocular cavity to restrict leakage and the formation of blood vessels around the defective macula. The procedure is fast, done under local anaesthetic and may be repeated every 1-3 months as needed, depending on the patient’s specific condition.
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is laser therapy that works by interacting with a photosensitive substance injected into the blood-stream. This procedure targets and seals only the leaky blood vessels while sparing the surrounding tissue hence minimizing the risk of any unintended collateral damage. It is extremely effective in treating the condition, especially certain forms of “wet” AMD and may reduce the need for frequent injections.
- Adjunctive treatment with intravitreal Triamcinolone which is a steroid, used in combination with anti VEGF injections and/ or laser treatment, helps control swelling or macular edema in AMD patients, as well as in other types of eye conditions that present with edema. This treatment can help stabilize and improve eyesight affected by AMD.
Please contact the Eye Center team for information about testing and the range of available options for treating Macular Degeneration and protecting your vision. We also offer our patients guidance on how to optimize their visual function when needed with the help of visual aids. Our experienced eye specialists offer the complete range of up-to-date diagnostic capabilities and therapies employed in the treatment of macular degeneration. Our team recognizes the difficulties patients with retinal disease with navigation and activities of daily living. Access to the clinic and to all its diagnostic, examination and treatment rooms is wheelchair friendly.
Should you or anyone need evaluation or treatment of macular degeneration or any retinal problem please contact The Eye Center at 03028291799, 03000822218 or 021 35836713 or contact us online via our website