Age Related Macular Degeneration

Written by on May 2, 2011 in Eye Problems - No comments
Treatment Options

Many adults are affected with age related macular degeneration, especially those over 50 years of age. As with any degenerative disorder, people who are diagnosed with it are filled with questions, wondering what they can do to save their vision for as long as possible in the face of this potentially devastating situation. Here we will look at what age related macular degeneration is in a simple way so you can start off with an understanding of what is going on inside your eye.

The Physical Aspects

In order to really understand age related macular degeneration, you need to grasp a little information about the anatomy of the eye. Your retina is at the back of the eye and is very important for your vision. The retina basically contains the nerves that are acting as the information highways between the visual stimuli hitting your eye and your brain interpreting those stimuli. With no retina, you cannot see the apple in front of you, even though it is still there. The retina is small, but there are different names for different parts of it. The central portion of it is called the macula, which comes into play in age related macular degeneration.

Behind the retina is the choroid, which is the area that supplies blood to the macula, which as you remember is the middle part of the retina. These three things: the retina, the macula, and the choroid, must be understood for you to understand how age related macular degeneration works.

The Pathology

Now we will look at what is happening in age related macular degeneration. There is another word to learn that refers to cellular debris, called drusen. Drusen have a critical role in some forms of macular degeneration. There are two basic types of age related macular degeneration.

The first is called Central Geographic Atrophy, or Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration. In this “dry” form, the drusen (cellular debris) begin to accumulate between the retina and the choroid. There is a layer of thin cellular tissue blow the retina, and as this atrophies, the debris is formed. As you can imagine, it is not good to have debris gathering between the retina and the choroid because now the blood supply is interfered with. What happens because of this is that the retina can begin to separate from the choroid, causing the lack of vision.

The second type is called Neovascular or Exudative Age Related Macular Degeneration, sometimes referred to as Wet Macular Degeneration. This form is less common. As you remember, the choroid supplies blood to the macula, which is in the center of the retina. In this form of the disease, the choroid begins to form extra blood vessels. This may seem like it would only give you more vision, but it is not the case. Instead, the retina can begin to separate from the choroid, just as with the dry form. There is scarring and bleeding from these blood vessels, which damages the photoreceptors and causes the vision loss.

Age related macular degeneration is not a problem that many people would choose to have, and yet, it happens to the best of us. Keeping a calm mind and researching your options is an excellent way to prevent as much damage as possible and to avoid getting overly stressed out about the condition. Understanding what is going on is the first step, allowing you to better grasp the treatment options and risk factors.

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