If your older family member has been given a diagnosis of macular degeneration, it’s likely you’ll have many questions and concerns. And you’re not alone; approximately 11 million seniors in America alone have been given the same diagnosis, and that number is expected to double by the year 2050. Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of the senior care Kansas City families trust, is on hand to provide the details you need to more fully comprehend this condition and how to best assist your senior loved one.
What is macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a disease in which the middle of the retina (the macula) is damaged, influencing central vision and the details necessary in reading, driving an automotive, viewing TV, and distinguishing people’s faces. It is the #1 cause of irreversible central vision blindness in older individuals, impacting 1 out of every 3 adults age 75 and older. It’s also important to be aware that macular degeneration will not normally result in complete blindness; peripheral vision stays unchanged.
What are the two forms of macular degeneration?
ARMD can appear in two types:
- Wet ARMD: Accounting for roughly 20 percent of all diagnoses, wet age-related macular degeneration causes a build-up of drusen – fat deposits – and an abnormality of the blood vessels beneath the retina. Both of these symptoms together induce retinal damage. Wet ARMD can advance quickly and produce severe and permanent central vision loss.
- Dry ARMD: Dry ARMD accounts for the majority (up to 90%) of macular degeneration diagnoses. As with wet ARMD, drusen develops below the retina, bringing about a thinning of the macula and eventual central vision loss. Progression is slower in this type of ARMD, but it can progress to wet ARMD.
In both varieties of ARMD, early diagnosis and continued monitoring are essential to protecting remaining vision.
How is ARMD diagnosed?
All seniors ought to get eye exams at least on a yearly basis. To discover ARMD, the eye doctor will dilate the eyes and conduct a fundoscopy, fundus photography, and a visual acuity test. If ARMD is suspected, an additional test, a fluorescein angiography, will likely be required. In this test, dye is injected to uncover any leakage in the blood vessels. The Amsler grid eye test is a quick and simple tool that can also be tried at home as an initial step in finding out if ARMD might be a possibility.
What treatment options are possible for ARMD?
While there’s presently no cure for macular degeneration, there are some treatment options the doctor may want to try to block the acceleration of the disease:
- Antioxidants and zinc
- Ranzibizumab injections
- Pegaptanib sodium injections
- Photodynamic therapy
- Bevacizumab injections
- Vision rehab and low vision aids
Is it possible to prevent macular degeneration?
Making healthy lifestyle decisions, like giving up (or not starting) smoking, exercising regularly, adopting a healthy diet that includes an ample amount of fruits, vegetables, and fish, obtaining a healthy weight and normal blood pressure, and wearing eye protection when outdoors, like sunglasses and hats, may possibly help reduce the risk of developing ARMD.
For a trusted partner in care for a senior with macular degeneration to provide help with transportation, medication reminders, meal preparation, light housework, and much more, contact Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of the best senior care Kansas City and the surrounding area have to offer, any time at 913-440-4209.