Preventing and Treating Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration or commonly called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition which affects the macula (the inner portion of the retina of the eye) that causes loss of vision in the center of visual field. Age-related Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults aged 60 and above.

Age related macular degeneration affects millions of older adults in their retirement years. And since overall life expectancy keeps on increasing, macular degeneration has become a major public health concern.

A patient with macular degeneration has difficulty or inability to read and recognize faces, but peripheral vision remains thus allowing the patient to continue daily activities of everyday life. Along with these, they also experience loss of contrast sensitivity, difficulty discerning colors, and sensitivity to bright light.

In treating patients with macular degeneration, the patient, the doctor, and the family of the patient must be united to form a healthy and good outcome. Although there is no found cure for macular degeneration, management and prevention help reducing the progression of the disease.

Major management for macular degeneration includes:

– Photodynamic Therapy that involves a light-sensitive medicine called verteporfin and is activated with low-powered laser that destroys abnormal blood vessels in the macula, thus preventing macular degeneration from getting worse.

– Various drug therapies that include anti vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth in the macula which reduces leakage and bleeding. Some drugs under anti-VEGF are Macugen, Lucentis, Avastin, and Evison.

– Vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene, and the mineral zinc, may be beneficial in slowing down the progression of macular degeneration. Aside from that, consuming omega fatty acids can also slow the progression of the disease.

– Surgical interventions like macular translocation and retinal transplant aim to correct the abnormal growth of blood vessels that caused this condition, and also bring back the vision.

Furthermore, there are also measures that will prevent the occurrence of macular degeneration like:
• Eye examination at age 45 including macular degeneration screening by your ophthalmologist serves as the best way to prevent occurrence of the disease.

• Eating a balanced diet which includes green leafy vegetables, quitting smoking, and wearing protective eye wear against sunlight also lessens the chance of having macular degeneration.

• Daily low dose intake of aspirin and cholesterol lowering drugs helps in preventing the progression of the disease.

• According to the National Institute of Health and National Eye institute, consuming supplements like antioxidants and zinc decreases the likelihood of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration and complications associated with the disease. Also, intake of vitamin A, C, E, selenium, and copper are recommended by doctors.

In dealing with clients with macular degeneration at home, helping them in their everyday life allows them to do more self activities and reducing depressions. These include improving lighting, use of night lights and overhead lights, installing grab bards in the bathroom, and arranging furniture for easy movement.

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