Macular Degeneration: Increase in Those Diagnosed, but Hope is on the Horizon

The deterioration of vision is commonplace among aging Americans. Surgeries, special eye-drops and prayer are all ways seniors try to stop the process. Losing their vision is like losing their independence-and to them it is the saddest thing in the world. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness affecting more Americans than cataracts and glaucoma combined.

The MAYO Clinic explains it simply:

Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that occurs when tissue that is part of your retina that’s responsible for central vision, deteriorates. The retina is the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball. Degeneration of the macula causes blurred central vision or a blind spot in the center of your visual field.

The first sign of macular degeneration may be a need for more light when you do close-up work. Fine newsprint may become harder to read and street signs more difficult to recognize. Gray or blank spots may mask the center of your visual field. The condition usually develops gradually, but sometimes progresses rapidly, leading to severe vision loss in one or both eyes.
Macular degeneration affects your central vision, but not your peripheral vision; thus it doesn’t cause total blindness. Still, the loss of clear central vision – critical for reading, driving, recognizing people’s faces and doing detail work – greatly affects your quality of life. The condition tends to develop as you get older, hence the “age-related” part of its name. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people age 60 and older.

It is caused by the “deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.”

With very little advances in the treatment of Macular Degeneration, Genentech has quickly brought forth a new drug to combat the disease. It is an injection called Lucentis, given directly into the eye.

A scary thought at first, injecting a medication into the eye. However, in several studies with Lucentis the results have been astoudning. Over 80% of those who received the injections early in the stages of macular degeneration have reported in maintaining their current, healthy vision for over a year.

It is important that people over the age of 50 go for regular check-ups with their eye doctor. Only through this form of early detection can Macular Degeneration be diagnosed. The treatment of Lucentis is given directly into the eye by your doctor.

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