Macular Degeneration Diagnosis, Management and Treatment
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration, often called AMD or ARMD, is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans who are age 65 and older. AMD is degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Because the macula primarily is affected in AMD, central vision loss may occur. Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular refers to growth of new blood vessels in an area, such as the macula, where they are not supposed to be. Macular degeneration mainly affects central vision, causing "blind spots" directly ahead. The dry form is more common than the wet form, with about 85 to 90 percent of AMD patients diagnosed with dry AMD. The wet form of the disease usually leads to more serious vision loss.
How Can Macular Degeneration be Treated?
No FDA-approved treatments are available for dry macular degeneration, although a few now are in clinical trials. The wet form may respond to laser procedures, if detected and treated early. A major National Eye Institute study (AREDS) has produced strong evidence that certain nutrients such as beta carotene (vitamin A), except for smokers, and vitamins C and E may help prevent or slow progression of dry macular degeneration. These findings have led to development of a number of different AREDS nutritional formulas for macular degeneration prevention. The AREDS study shows that taking high dose formulas of certain nutritional supplements found in eye vitamins may reduce risk of early stage AMD progression by 25 percent. We also recommend that dry AMD patients wear sunglasses with UV protection. Dr. Brodrick specializes in AMD treatment and is available to see patients Boerne on Friday afternoons. He performs exams as well as treatment for wet AMD, which involves laser and injections.