Wet Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of visual impairment among elderly patients in developed countries, usually due to an impairment to the macular of the retina.
The macular is an oval yellow spot near the center of the retina of the human eye. The macular processes your central vision and helps you focus on tasks like driving, seeing fine detail, recognizing faces, and reading. The retina is the light-sensitive nerve tissue at the back of your eye.
Macular degeneration is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It occurs when cell death causes abnormal growth of blood vessels in the area. When these vessels leak and bleed, they damage your central vision. Because it is common among older people, it is often called Age-related Macular Degeneration.
WHO IS LIKELY TO HAVE IT?
Aside from genetic factors or family history, you are likely to suffer wet macular degeneration if you make unhealthy lifestyle decisions such as:
- Consuming high amounts of fatty foods, especially saturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Long time exposure to digital screen light.
- Exposure to UV light from sunlight.
Other factors that can contribute to wet macular degeneration are health factors like; obesity, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
SYMPTOMS OF WET MACULAR DEGENERATION
The first symptom of wet macular degeneration is the yellow deposit in the macular, although it may not be a clear sign. Subsequent signs that follow are:
1) Blurred or distorted vision.
2) Inability to clearly see fine details.
3) Trouble reading with low light.
4) An object might look different in size or colour when seen with one eye than with the other.
5) Trouble adjusting from bright places to dark places, for instance, after spending hours outside and you step into a dark room, you may have a hard time finding your way around.
RELATED: WET VS DRY MACULAR DEGENERATION
MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION
Overall, it is important to go for routine eye checkups to identify early signs of any eye defect. Certain measures can be taken in preventing or managing wet macular degeneration;
i. Make healthy lifestyle decisions: for instance, if you are a smoker and noticing symptoms of wet macular degeneration, it is best that you quit smoking, or if you have any genetic trait of health problems of macular degeneration or any other health-related issues such as obesity or hypertension, it is advisable to live healthy by eating right and exercising to decrease the risk of having wet macular degeneration.
ii. Use of Sun Shades: When we spend time in the sun, we are exposed to two potentially harmful rays: UVA and UVB. The UV rays are deadly to the eyes and can cause macular degeneration, the use of sun shades could help decrease the chances of having it.
iii. Use of Magnifiers: There are a lot of magnifying devices out there, that can be of help to you when reading or doing any close-up works such as sewing. An example of such a device is the magnifying lens which is worn like glasses. You should get one recommended by a doctor when you begin to notice any symptoms of macular degeneration.
iv. Change your Computer Setting: For people who spend a long time on their screens, they could also get magnifying glasses or they could change some settings in their computers such as increasing their font size and adjusting their monitors to show more contrast.
TREATMENT OF WET MACULAR DEGENERATION
Some medications and therapies may slow the progression of the disease, preserve existing vision or even recover some lost visions if started on time.
Medications such as Bevacizumab (avastin), Lucentis, Aflibercept (eylea), and Brolucizumab (beovu), are used to treat wet macular degeneration.
These medications may help stop the growth of new blood vessels by blocking the effects of growth signals the body sends to generate new blood vessels. In some instances, you may partially recover your vision as the blood vessels shrink and the fluid under the retina absorbs, allowing some vision gain.
Therapies used in the treatment of were macular degeneration are:
i. Photodynamic Therapy: This procedure is used in treating abnormal blood vessels at the center of your macular. Your doctor injects a drug known as Visudyne into your vein, which goes up the blood vessels in your eyes. The therapy may improve your vision and reduce vision loss, although treatment may need to be repeated from time to time, and you will need to avoid direct sunlight and bright lights until you are fully treated.
ii. Photocoagulation Therapy: During the therapy, your doctor uses a high-energy laser beam to seal abnormal blood vessels under the macular, but even with this, blood vessels may grow, hence needing more treatments. This therapy is not common among patients with wet macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration does affect your side vision and usually does not cause total blindness, but it can reduce or completely remove central vision, which is necessary for driving, reading, or recognizing faces.
Occupational therapists who have been trained in low vision rehabilitation may be beneficial to you in such cases. All medicine should be taken according to your doctor’s prescription and should be kept away from children’s reach.