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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Wet or Dry, This Eye Condition Can Pose Significant Challenges

Posted By: Advancing Care

Medically Reviewed by Max Schlesinger, MD

Macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that primarily affects people as they age. The impairment gradually diminishes central vision, which significantly impacts daily activities such as reading, driving and recognizing faces, making it a considerable concern for the affected individuals and their families.

Understanding the risks, taking preventive measures and seeking timely medical intervention are key factors in effectively managing macular degeneration.

Wet or Dry, This Eye Condition Can Pose Significant Challenges

Who’s most at risk?

The exact causes of macular degeneration aren't fully understood, but a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors are believed to contribute to its development. Some key risk factors include:

  • Being 50 years of age or older
  • Having a family history of macular degeneration
  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Wet or Dry?  And What’s the Difference?

There are two main types of macular degeneration:

  • Dry macular degeneration: This is the most common form, accounting for the majority of cases. It involves the gradual breakdown of cells in the macula, leading to vision changes.
  • Wet macular degeneration: Although less common, this type is more severe. It involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the retina, which can leak blood and fluid, causing rapid and severe vision loss.

What treatment options are available?

While there's no cure for macular degeneration, certain treatments like injections, laser therapy and medications can help manage symptoms. Treatment options depend on the severity of your condition and whether you have dry or wet macular degeneration.

Treatment for dry macular degeneration

There's currently no treatment that can fully reverse the effects of dry macular degeneration. However, certain high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements, known as AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) formulations, have been shown to slow the progression of intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration in some cases.

Lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, leafy green vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids may also help slow its progression.

Excitingly, several new drugs have just come to market which can help slow the progression of advanced forms of dry macular degeneration, ushering in a new era of treatment.

Max Schlesinger, MD
Max Schlesinger, MD

Treatment for wet macular degeneration

This type often requires more immediate attention due to its rapid progression and severe vision loss potential. Treatments for wet macular degeneration include:

  • Anti-VEGF drugs: These medications, injected into the eye, can help slow or stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels, reducing leakage and preserving vision.
  • Laser therapy: In some cases, laser treatments can be used to destroy abnormal blood vessels that are actively leaking or causing damage to the macula.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This involves a combination of a light-activated drug and laser treatment to target abnormal blood vessels.

Treatment effectiveness varies from person to person, and it's essential to consult with an ophthalmologist or retina specialist for personalized recommendations. These treatments can help manage the condition, prevent severe vision loss and sometimes improve vision temporarily.

Macular degeneration poses a significant challenge to those affected, impacting their quality of life and independence. While there isn’t a definitive cure, early detection, regular eye exams, healthy lifestyle choices and appropriate treatments can effectively manage the condition, slow its progression and help you maintain your vision for as long as possible.

To book an appointment with one of our ophthalmologists, contact us at 914.313.3937 or visit our website.