This is a condition where the macular region (the area at the back of the eye with which we see most clearly) degrades. This can result in reduced vision, sometimes to the point where the sufferer can lose the central vision and detail. It is frustrating to the patient as it can severely affect their ability to undertake everyday tasks such as reading, TV, driving etc. and frustrating to the eye care professionals as it is a condition which currently can not be cured.
There are 2 main types. Firstly a form characterised by a slow and progressive reduction in central vision. This form is by far the most common and the vision loss is often less in this type. Although there is actually no cure, there are suggestions that vitamin and dietary supplements can help to reduce progression of early changes. Lutein, zinc and vitamins A, C and E have been found to be the most beneficial. There are now a number of vitamin supplements available, formulated specifically to prevent macular degeneration. Examples are Nutrof Total and Preservision.
The other form is much more sudden in onset, the patient often becoming aware of a sudden distortion in the middle vision. This is due to new blood vessels growing under the macula and then leaking. Clinically we may see bleeding and leaking fluid at the back of the eye. It is sometimes possible to treat this type of ARMD with a laser and more recently with injections to control the new vessels.
This condition will not cause blindness as it can only affect the middle vision, all patients retain peripheral vision which allows them to get around. There is also alot of research being undertaken into the causes and treatments for this all too common problem. So in the future the outlook for patients with this problem may not be so adverse.
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