Macular Degeneration

Eye disease caused by degeneration of the cells of the macula lutea.

Manifestations:

  • Loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. The retina is the interior layer of the eye consisting of the receptors and nerves that collect and transmit light signals from the eye into the optic nerve, then to the brain for interpretation as our sense of vision.
  • Results in blurred vision.
  • Severe progression results in blindness as retinal cells atrophy and scar tissue covers the area.

Treatment and Symptom Management:

  1. Taking antioxidants: Deficiencies in antioxidants (specifically zinc and vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthine) have been noted in some people with age-related macular degeneration. Antioxidants may protect against age-related macular degeneration by preventing free radicals or unstable oxygen from damaging the retina.
  2. Laser treatment may stop or lessen vision loss in early stages of the disease. It is performed with a specific wavelength designed to cauterize the abnormal blood vessels. Argon and krypton lasers are most commonly used for treating macular degeneration.
  3. Anecortave acetate (Retaane) is an investigational drug aimed at inhibiting the abnormal growth of blood vessels (neovascularization) in macular degeneration.
  4. Pegaptanib used to treat both classic and occult subfoveal choroidal neovascular membranes (the areas of abnormal growth of new blood vessels). The drug is administered by an ophthalmologist as an injection into the eye.
  5. Squalamine lactate (Evizon) is an investigational drug that blocks signaling of angiogenic (blood vessel) growth factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
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