If your aging family member has been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, it’s likely you’ll have quite a few concerns and questions. And you’re not alone; as many as 11 million seniors in the U.S. alone have received the same diagnosis, and that number is estimated to double by the year 2050. Enhanced Home Care, the top providers of senior care Overland Park and the surrounding area offer, is on hand with the information you need to better have an understanding of this condition and how to best assist your senior loved one.
What is macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a disease whereby the center of the retina (the macula) is damaged, having an effect on central vision and the details necessary in reading, driving an automotive, viewing TV or a movie, and identifying the faces of other people. It is the top cause of irreversible central vision loss in seniors, impacting about 30% of adults over age 75. It’s worthwhile to know that macular degeneration will not likely cause full loss of vision; peripheral vision stays unimpaired.
What are the two categories of macular degeneration?
ARMD can manifest in two types:
- Wet ARMD: Accounting for up to 10 – 20% of all diagnoses, wet age-related macular degeneration results in a build-up of drusen – deposits of fat – and an abnormality of the blood vessels under the retina. Both of these symptoms together bring about retinal damage. Wet ARMD can advance swiftly and cause severe and irrevocable central vision blindness.
- Dry ARMD: Dry ARMD accounts for the vast majority (up to 90%) of macular degeneration diagnoses. As with wet ARMD, drusen develops beneath the retina, leading to a thinning of the macula and ultimate loss of central vision. Advancement is slower in this form of ARMD, but it can advance to wet ARMD.
In both kinds of ARMD, early diagnosis and continued monitoring are essential to preserving remaining vision.
How is ARMD diagnosed?
All older individuals need to receive eye exams at least on an annual basis. To diagnose 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 assessment, a fluorescein angiography, will very likely be required. In this test, dye is injected to recognize any leakages in the blood vessels. The Amsler grid eye test is a quick and easy tool that can also be tried at home as a first step in discovering if ARMD may be a possibility.
What treatment methods are offered for ARMD?
While there’s presently no cure for macular degeneration, there are various treatment options the doctor may want to try to block the further advancement 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 beginning) smoking, regularly exercising, adopting a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and fish, sustaining a healthy weight and normal blood pressure, and wearing eye protection when outdoors, such as 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 Enhanced Home Care, the most trusted providers of senior care Overland Park has to offer, any time at 913-327-0000.