macular degeneration

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macular degeneration,

eye disorder causing loss of central vision. The affected area, the macula, lies at the back of the retina and is the part that produces the sharpest vision. The most serious visual impairment occurs when abnormal blood vessels form and leak serous fluid or bleed into the tissue of the macula, ultimately producing scar tissue. Peripheral (side) vision is unaffected. Onset may be acute with hemorrhage but usually is gradually progressive. Although some vision is retained, the ability to read, recognize faces, and drive a motor vehicle is greatly reduced. The condition is painless.

Macular degeneration is a major cause of vision impairment among elderly people. Although its underlying cause is unknown, it sometimes appears to run in families. Serious macular degeneraton, if diagnosed early, may have its progress stemmed by laser or photodynamic (cold laser and drug) treatment that closes leaking vessels. Antiangiogenic drugs, which inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, can be injected into the eye to stop degeneration and in some cases even improve vision. Sudden change in vision in someone over age 50 thus requires immediate medical attention.


See H. Grunwald, Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight (1999).

References in periodicals archive ?
On average, half of the persons in the diabetes and two-thirds in the ARMD sample were examined in a given 15-month period (Table 2).
Results for ARMD overall were quite similar to those for diabetes, with a few important differences.
Persons diagnosed with wet ARMD were 70 percent more likely to have been examined than those without a diagnosis (OR = 1.
Unlike the diabetes analysis, presence of adult children in the household, residence in a nursing home, and being female had no statistically significant effects on the probability of having an eye exam for persons in the ARMD sample.
For example, fewer eye care providers would imply greater transportation costs, and for people with ARMD, fewer providers were significantly associated with fewer visits.
All other ARMD cases are the more severe "wet" form, where people tend to lose a significant portion of their vision.
Because each case of ARMD is distinct, diagnosing with certainty which form a patient has is crucial to treatment.
Research indicates ARMD could be slowed with antioxidant vitamins like E, C and A, and assorted minerals like selenium, zinc, magnesium, B6 and folic acid.
Although research is happening in retinal implants and transplants, Wong doesn't believe these will help ARMD patients for at least five or 10 years.
Richer is using have been available for years but this is the first time they have been used together in the United States to diagnose the very early stages of ARMD.
Richer recommends that these three tests be given to all people who are at risk for ARMD.