degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the aging population
with a significant increase in the number of cases seen in people older
than 65. It is also the number one cause of legal blindness in people
this disease, the macula portion of the retina is damaged in both eyes.
The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be due to an insufficient
supply of nutrients to the macula. Studies now show that UV light from
the sun may also be a contributor to the disease. There are two forms
of macular degeneration - wet and dry. The dry form rather than the
wet form is more commonly diagnosed in patients.
the wet form, new blood vessels growing under the macula causes the
vision loss. If this form is detected early enough, laser therapy can
be used to treat the blood vessels and prevent further vision loss.
Earlier this year, the FDA approved a cold laser therapy called Photodynamic
Therapy to treat people who are in the early stages of the wet form.
Unlike the conventional laser therapy, this method will not damage the
healthy cells surrounding the leaking blood vessel. Unfortunately Photodynamic
Therapy cannot reverse the damage that has already been done; it can
only prevent further vision loss.
the dry form, there is no treatment available because the vision loss
is due to deterioration of cone cells (the cells responsible for color
and central vision). People with macular degeneration usually experience
diminished central vision in both eyes and the ability to see details.
with an occupational therapist who specializes with people who have
low vision, has proven extremely helpful for some of our patients. They
have reported back to us that it has made a difference like "night
and day", in their ability to view objects.
occupational therapist for vision gives the patient exercises to perform,
which in effect retrains the brain to see out of the "eccentric
field of vision" remaining, thus eliminating much eye strain from
the process, where prior to the retraining, the brain was telling the
eye to try to see out of the damaged areas.