MACULAR DEGENERATION SOLICITORS - MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE COMPENSATION
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Macular degeneration is a slow going eye disorder that damages the sharp, central vision of the eye. Seeing fine details and reading become difficult, if not impossible to do. It is a disease that affects those older than the age of 60, thus the designation of age-related macular degeneration.
The retina is the thin inner layer at the back of the eye. It has rods and cones in it that detect color and sharpness of vision and sends a signal to the brain indicating what the person sees. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina that makes vision the sharpest and most detailed. Macular degeneration is a condition that damages the blood vessels that supply the macula of the retina.
There are two phases of macular degeneration. The two phases of macular generation include dry macular degeneration when the blood vessels become brittle and thin. Small yellow deposits, known as drusen, form in the macular area. Most people begin with the dry form and progress to the wet form of macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration happens in only about 10 percent of those with the disease. New blood vessels form under the macula in a process called choroidal neovascularization. The blood vessels are fragile and leak blood and fluid into the tissue. The vision is impaired by the blood and fluid within the macular area.
Doctors do not know what causes macular degeneration. It is a rare condition before the ages of fifty five and is more often seen in older individuals greater than the age of 75 years. Heredity plays a role in getting the disease as does being Caucasian, smoking cigarettes, eating a high fat diet, being of the female gender and being obese.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include a loss of central vision with blurry vision in the central part of the vision. Colours are faded in that area of the vision and you may have trouble when it comes to reading fine print or seeing details of something. You can generally see well enough to get by with walking around and interacting with people. Eventually you need more light to perform everyday tasks and you may notice that straight lines that will suddenly seem wavy and disordered. There can be a blurry or dark spot in the centre of the vision that gets larger and darker over time. Peripheral vision is usually unaffected. Loss of central vision can happen quite quickly so you need an examination as soon as possible.
Diagnosis of macular degeneration is done using an ophthalmoscope with dilated eyes. The eye doctor will see the retina using the microscope and will see blood vessels and the optic nerve. The macula is visible and the doctor will look for the characteristic drusen seen in the disease. There is a special test called the Amsler grid that shows a pattern of lines. The lines will appear wavy in macular degeneration.
Doctors can also diagnose macular degeneration using a fluorescein angiogram of the eye or fundus photography. A test called an optical coherence tomography can also be done.
The treatment of macular degeneration is elusive. Once it becomes severe or advanced, vision cannot be restored. Doctors can use antioxidants, vitamins, and zinc, which may prevent the disease from worsening. There is a special combination of supplements known as the AREDS formula. This can be done in the early stages of the disease or with those who have a family history of the disease. This cannot be done in smokers but includes taking vitamin C, beta carotene, zinc and copper. Some supplements contain lutein and zeaxanthin but this isn't part of the original AREDS formula.
With wet macular degeneration, the individual can have laser photocoagulation, which destroys affected blood vessels. Photodynamic therapy is done with a light that activates a drug, which destroys abnormal blood vessels and there are special medications that prevent new blood vessels from forming. These include Avastin and Lucentis. Using these medications is completely painless. Special vision aids are used to improve your central vision so your quality of life is improved.
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Medical Negligence Solicitors
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here