Macular Degeneration & Treatment Options
Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of vision loss. The central part of the retina (the macula) is damaged, causing blurriness and distortion of the central vision. The exact cause is unknown. Great strides have been made in treatment of this condition in the last ten years, but no treatment is uniformly effective. Early recognition and treatment of macular degeneration may reduce the possibility of severe visual loss.
Different Types of Macular Degeneration
The two most common types of AMD are "dry" (atrophic) and "wet" (exudative). The dry form is more common. It is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Visual loss is gradual. The wet form accounts for about 10% of all cases of macular degeneration. Abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina in the back of the eye leak fluid and blood into the macula, causing severe damage. Visual loss in these cases can be much more rapid and severe.
Approximately 5% of all infants are born with blockages of the nasolacrimal ducts in one or both eyes. These ducts are responsible for draining tears out of the eyes. When they become blocked, the eye tears constantly with discharge. Most of these obstructions clear spontaneously in the first six months of life. However, some of these obstructions persist, requiring surgical probing and dilation of the ducts to open them. To ensure the best results with the least chance of complications, these procedures are usually performed before the age of one year.
Babies can also be born with drooping of one or both eyelids. This condition is known as congenital ptosis. This problem is corrected with surgery on the eyelid(s) to raise it up to an appropriate level. Timing of surgery depends on the severity of ptosis, with more severe cases requiring earlier intervention.
Children often develop infected cysts in the eyelids, known as chalazions. This problem occurs because of blockage of tear glands in the eyelids that produce the oily component of tears (Meibomian glands). The blocked glands can become infected and inflamed, forming large cysts in the eyelids. Early treatment with hot compresses and antibiotics is often helpful in clearing the problem. Surgery to excise these cysts is sometimes needed if conservative treatment fails.