Located at the back of the eye, the retina and vitreous are essential for sight. The retina, composed of millions of light-sensitive nerve endings, generates nerve impulses from which the brain creates visual images. The vitreous is a clear, gel-like substance that fills the space between the retina and the lens of the eye, giving form to the shape of the eye.
All vitreo and retinal conditions require specialized treatment and care. As a center of excellence for vision care, Eyecare Medical Group maintains the expertise and advanced technology to treat the most complex retinal problems. Our experienced retinal physicians are vitreoretinal specialists and an accomplished surgeons.
EMG is also harnessing emerging technology to fight vitreous and retinal diseases, including ways to measure and slow the process of macular degeneration. Our Heidelberg Retinal Tomograph allows us to preemptively measure optic nerve loss. A new non-contact, non-invasive imaging technique — Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) — reveals the inner workings of the eye in high resolution, cross-section images of the retina, giving doctors more precise measurement of the extent of retina deterioration.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of severe vision loss in this country. It is a disease that slowly damages the central vision. People who have vision loss from AMD most often complain of difficulty reading, seeing faces, or managing common daily tasks. When someone loses vision from AMD, it may happen suddenly or it may happen gradually over many years. There is no pain associated with macular degeneration and people may sometimes be surprised that one of their eyes does not see as well as it used to unless they check their eyes separately. When people talk about AMD, they generally place the condition in one of two categories: the wet form or the dry form. Both forms affect the macula, which is located in the middle of the retina, the part of the inside lining of the eye that senses light.
A common question is who is at risk for developing AMD? The greatest risk factor is age. People in the United States in their early 60s may have no more than a 2% risk of getting AMD, but that risk increases to nearly 30% for those over 75 years of age. Other risk factors are smoking, obesity, Caucasian race, and a family history of AMD.
A common misconception is that nothing can be done for AMD. First, we need to detect the development of wet AMD changes. The most common way of doing this is with a card that has a grid pattern called an Amsler grid. This card is given at the time of the eye examination and must be checked daily. Changes in the appearance of the grid, such as wavy lines developing where they should be straight, may be a sign of developing advanced AMD.
When a doctor thinks you have macular degeneration and you are at increased risk for vision loss, a combination of antioxidants and zinc are prescribed for daily use. Antioxidants contained in this preparation are high doses of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene. New research is suggesting that weekly servings of fatty fish, such as salmon or fish oil supplements, may be very protective due to the omega III fatty acids that they contain. Also, 6 to 10 mg of Lutein may be protective against severe vision loss in AMD and does not appear to have significant side effects. These protective measures may go far to keep people with AMD from developing severe vision loss.
There is a new medication that has recently been put into use for the wet form of macular degeneration called Lucentis. Clinical trials have shown that up to 40% of people who receive this medication once a month will develop improved vision from wet AMD. In addition, it appears that as many as 95% of people will develop stabilized vision as a result of Lucentis therapy.
So, we should all be thankful that this frightening condition now has therapy which may prevent worsening for many people who have early AMD. We should also be thankful that a treatment exists that can help many people once severe vision loss develops. New products, which are likely to help in the future, are currently under investigation. It is truly an exciting time for the management of this disease.
Eyecare Medical Group provides diagnosis and treatment of Macular Degeneration in Maine (ARMD) and is conveniently located for patients at risk for Macular Degeneration from Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Bath, Berwick, Biddeford, Bridgeton, Brunswick, Cape Neddick, Casco Bay, Cumberland Center, Eliot, Freeport, Gardiner, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Kittery, Lewiston, Old Orchard Beach, Sanford, Scarborough, South Portland, Springvale, Topsham, Waterville, Westbrook, Winslow, Wiscasset, Yarmouth, Portland, Skowhegan and York Maine.Macular Degeneration – Resources and Updates