Your Eyes Articles

FOR USE IN WEEK STARTING September 27, 2010

AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION

Macular degeneration, often called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an eye disorder associated with aging and results in damaging sharp and central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the central part the retina that allows the eye to see fine details. There are two forms of AMD, wet and dry.

Wet AMD: when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula, ultimately leading to blood and fluid leakage. Bleeding, leaking, and scarring from these blood vessels cause damage and lead to rapid central vision loss. An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy.

Dry AMD: When the macula thins over time as part of aging process, gradually blurring central vision. The dry form is more common and accounts for 70-90% of cases of AMD. It progresses more slowly than the wet form. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes. One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen. Drusen are tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina. They are often found in people over age 60. The presence of small drusen is normal and does not cause vision loss. However, the presence of small drusen is normal and does not cause vision loss. However, the presence of large and more numerous drusen raises the risk of developing advance dry AMD or wet AMD.

It is estimated that 1.8 milion Americans 40 years and older are affected by AMD and an additional 7.3 million with large drusen are at substantial risk of developing AMD. The number of people with AMD is estimated to reach 2.95 million in 2020.

FOR USE IN WEEK STARTING September 20, 2010

CATARACT AND GLAUCOMA

Among the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are cataract and glaucoma.

Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Cataracts can occur at any age due to a variety of causes, and can be present at birth. Although treatment for the removal of cataract is widely available, access barriers such as insurance coverage, treatment costs, patient choice, or lack of awareness prevent many people from receiving the proper treatment. An estimated 20.5 million (17.2%) Americans 40 years and older have cataract in one or both eyes. 6.1 million (5.1%) have had their lens surgically removed. The number of people who have cataracts is estimated to increase to 30.1 million by 2020.

Glaucoma is group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. However, recent findings now show that glaucoma can occur with normal eye pressure. With early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.

There are two major categories: “open angle” and “close angle” glaucoma. Open angle is a chronic condition that progresses slowly over a long period of time without the person noticing vision loss untill the disease is very advanced. That is why it is called “sneak thief of sight”. Angle closure can appear suddenly and is painful.