Forms of Macular Degeneration
The diagnosis of macular degeneration could either be a dry or wet. The former is referred to non-neovascular form of AMD and is more common than the other. About 80 to 90 percent of overall cases are identified as dry AMD. Although central vision loss may gradually take place with this form, it is considered to be less severe than wet AMD. However, in this case the condition may progress slowly over the years to gradual degradation of retinal cells, a process termed as late-stage geographic atrophy (GA), which can also bring about some serious loss of vision. Currently there are no approved treatments available for dry AMD but few are being explored and studied in laboratories and subject to clinical trials.
Certain nutrients may help in the prevention of the condition and can even slow the progression of the disease. Based on the study conducted by the National Eye Institute (AREDS) beta carotene and vitamins C and E can help combat AMD. The findings of this study led to the discovery and development of other nutritional formulas specific for AMD. It was also identified that increased dosage of certain nutritional supplements in eye vitamins may decrease a person’s risk of progressing to early AMD symptoms by about 25 %. Furthermore, wearing sunglasses with UV protection against the harmful effects of the sun is recommended for patients diagnosed with the dry form.
Wet AMD (Neovascular)
With wet AMD, the neovascular form, new blood vessels start to grow in the macula where they are not supposed to be. The process of abnormal blood cell growth is known as choroidal neovascularization (CNV). This form of the condition is usually associated with more serious cases. When yellowish spots, called drusen, accumulate in the macula dry macular degeneration is diagnosed. These spots are believed to be deposits or debris from tissues that undergo deteriorating processes.
CNV is the body’s is a misguided attempt of the body to cope up with decrease oxygen and nutrients in the retina. However, instead of doing well, damage is produce which usually leads to a serious loss of central vision. When the blood vessels beneath the retina leaks out fluids and blood permanent damage to the light-sensitive retinal cells takes place. This causes blind spots in the central vision area due to the death of retinal cells. This is the reason why wet AMD is more severe than the other. Wet AMD comprise about 10% of cases.
Wet AMD is further divided into two categories:
- Occult – blood vessel growth and leakage is less evident; less severe vision loss
- Classic – blood vessel growth and leakage is very clear; more severe loss of vision
Image courtesy of maculardegenerationguide.co.uk