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What is Macular Degeneration?
Jacksonville, FL board-certified retina specialists, Dr. Shawn Agee and Dr. John Sullivan, treat patients for macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that is one of the leading causes of vision loss in America. It is a disease of the retina that is caused by the deterioration of the central area of the retina, known as the macula. This is what allows a person to have central vision, which is needed to control our ability to drive, read, recognize colors, and see things in clear detail. A diagnosis of macular degeneration can be upsetting, and it is our job to properly diagnose and help manage this debilitating disease for our patients.
There are two distinct types of macular degeneration, known as wet and dry. While there is a possibility of a viable treatment plan for wet macular degeneration, most patients are diagnosed with the dry, incurable form. We are here to help assess a proper diagnosis, and assist in preventing the rapid progression of this eye disease.
Causes and Symptoms
It is not conclusively known what causes macular degeneration. In the majority of cases, it is age-related, marked by several factors that seem to be consistent with its occurrence, including age, genetics, and smoking. In fact, smoking can almost double the risk for this eye disease. Researchers continue to work hard to understand what causes the cells of the macula to deteriorate, and in recent years, more information has become readily available. The symptoms associated with macular degeneration depend on the type you have.
- Wet macular degeneration: This form can destroy your central vision in a matter of days to weeks by abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid or blood within the central portion of the retina.
- Dry macular degeneration: The dry form is progressive and slowly causes a blurring of vision, to legal blindness, that can take many years to develop. There are several stages to this type of degeneration, ranging from early to intermediate, and finally, advanced stage degeneration where vision loss is considerably noticeable.
To diagnose macular degeneration, there are 2 prominent tests for retinal disease:
- Fluorescein angiography: This is a medical test in which a special, fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream. As the dye moves its way through the bloodstream, it highlights the blood vessels in the back of the eye. The eye is then photographed for diagnostic purposes to detect retinal disorders.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This is an ophthalmology imaging technique using light to capture high-resolution, 3-D images of the back of the eye.
Treatment and Prognosis
While there is no treatment or cure for dry macular degeneration, however age related eye vitamins may be taken and useful for select subgroups of both wet and dry macular degeneration. There are medical treatments for wet macular degeneration with anti-VEGF medications, but there is no cure. Our retinal specialists use Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea intraocular injections to chemically shrink the abnormal neovascularization (abnormal blood vessels) to improve central vision. These treatments have to be repeated for many months and depend on the severity of the disease to prevent the recurrence of wet AMD. The earlier the patient starts treatment for macular degeneration, the better the prognosis.
Treat Macular Degeneration
If you are in need of a retinal doctor for diagnostic purposes of macular degeneration, our talented and experienced ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons skillfully use state-of-the-art equipment to diagnosis this disease. Please call and schedule your testing today with our welcoming front office staff members.