As at: 02/24/2020 05:07 p.m.
Up to four million Germans suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This incurable retinal disease is the most common cause of severe visual impairment in people over 60 in Germany. Gradually, the sensory cells lose their function at the point of sharpest vision (macula) so that those affected no longer recognize what they are looking at directly.
Causes of dry and wet macular degeneration
There are two types of AMD: the “dry” and the “wet”.
- Around 80 percent of patients suffer from dry AMD. It arises from deposits under the retina, which cannot be effectively treated with medication, but do not always lead to a drastic visual impairment. Studies show that a vitamin-rich diet can slow macular degeneration and that the macula is primarily dependent on the supply of the building materials lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids. Regular intake of these substances ensures more stable pigmentation in the eye. Overall, a targeted diet with lots of green vegetables, berries and fish can have a positive effect on the dry form of macular degeneration. Many sufferers also take food supplements that contain these substances. However, there is no clear proof of effectiveness.
- Wet AMD is much more aggressive: pathological blood vessels develop under the retina that secrete fluid. Bleeding and water retention occur in the retina. Visual cells die, the center of vision is severely damaged.
Symptoms of macular degeneration
While those with a dry AMD primarily notice increasing shading in the central area, the first sign of wet macular degeneration is rather distorted vision: straight lines, for example the tile joints in the bathroom, appear crooked, letters become blurred.
Wet macular degeneration: therapy with syringes
The course of a wet AMD can be slowed down by injections into the eye and can often be stopped for years. Under local anesthesia, the ophthalmologist regularly injects a drug directly into the vitreous of the eye. The active substance, a so-called VEGF antagonist, inhibits the growth factors that are responsible for vascular proliferation in the retina. This stops the progression of the disease and in some cases even improves eyesight. However, not every active ingredient is tolerated equally well by everyone affected, so ophthalmologists sometimes have to search for the optimal medication for a while. A brand new product is a drug with the active ingredient brolucizumab, the effect of which is said to last longer than the previously available preparations.
Tools for special everyday requirements
There are various aids for those affected:
- In the case of dry macular degeneration or after successful syringe therapy of wet macular degeneration, an artificial lens (SML lens) can be used as an aid, which enlarges the point of sharpest vision. However, this intervention is not a cash benefit, so those affected have to bear the costs themselves.
- With telescope glasses, activities such as playing a musical instrument are still possible.
- Magnifying glasses make reading possible.
Risk factors for macular degeneration
The risk factors for the development of age-related macular degeneration include smoking, eye strain from UV radiation as well High blood pressure. Genetic predisposition also plays a role. Especially people with fair skin and blue eyes are affected more often with increasing age.
Prevent with regular examinations
Since the treatment cannot cure the disease but can only stop it, the most important thing is timely diagnosis of macular degeneration. Experts therefore recommend having an ophthalmologist’s examination every two years from the age of 40.
Detect signs of AMD with test
The first signs of an AMD can be seen using the Amsler grid testing determine yourself. The test does not replace a visit to the doctor.