Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision lost for individuals over the age of 55. This occurs when leaky blood vessels and other debris cloud the macula or the thinnest part of the eye. This area is responsible for 80 percent of a person’s vision.
13 million people in the United States are inflicted with AMD, and doctors fear those numbers are growing with each passing year. There is no cure for AMD, but there are new research treatment options that can slowdown or even halt the progression of the disease.
A form of laser eye surgery has become the best source to treat dry macular degeneration in certain candidates. Researchers have developed new drugs that can be injected into the gel behind the eye’s lens, which can help to restore the patient’s vision.
What is Retinal Laser Photocoagulation
Retinal laser photocoagulation is a new type of laser eye surgery that burns away small areas of the retina and the abnormal blood vessels that lie beneath the macula. The burnt scar tissue helps to seal the damaged blood vessels and keep them from leaking under the macula. This surgery also slows down the buildup of fluid under the retina, which distorts the shape and position of the macula.
The goal of this medical procedure is to slow the growth of the scar tissue and abnormal membranes that have develop underneath the retina. If not treated, then the cells inside the retina will become damaged and vision loss will occur.
The success rate is best when the abnormal blood vessels are clustered together in one area. If they’re scattered over a wider range, then it becomes much harder to combat the disease. This surgery becomes even a lesser option if the abnormal blood vessels reach the center of the macula.
New Hope for AMD Sufferers
Approximately, one in five AMD sufferers develop the wet variation of the disease. The name is derived from overstressed immune cells located in the eye that begin to fail, and they aren’t able to block the growth of tiny blood vessels inside the retina. The result is fluid begins to develop in the area.
The most effective course of treatment is a new drug called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is a protein that promotes blood vessel growth. The drug dries up the fluid buildup and stops the region from creating new, fragile blood vessels.
However, the lone setback with this treatment is the medicine must be injected directly into the eye, and the patient must have between 8-12 injections-per-year. One of the hazards is a patient moving during the injection process. The result is the eye could become bruised for several days. Doctors do sympathize with their patients, especially after keeping their eye perfectly still long enough for them to administer the drug.
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