Macular Degeneration and Diabetic retinopathy are now 2 of the leading causes of blindness in America. Retina San Diego’s board certified eye physician and surgeon, Dr. Arash Mozayan sheds light on 2 diseases that are affecting so many in our community.
What is Macular degeneration?
“Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. It is a degeneration of the central part of the retina, called the macula,” Dr. Mozayan said. “The macula is responsible for our most critical vision. It is the part of our vision we use to read, drive or recognize faces”
What are the different types of Macular degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is divided into 2 main categories: the dry and the wet type.
“Dry Macular Degeneration is mainly caused by depositions of cellular debris under the retina which can progress to affect the cells that catch the light in the retina and thus cause loss of vision,” Dr. Mozayan said. “On the other, the Wet type of Macular Degeneration is caused by the growth of new abnormal blood vessels under or into the retina which can leak or bleed and cause swelling of the retina and ultimately cause loss of vision.”
What can I do to decrease progression of Macular Degeneration?
“Physical activity and a diet rich in antioxidants are crucial in the prevention of Macular Degeneration,” Dr. Mozayan said. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a study sponsored by the National Eye Institute established that the intake of vitamins C, E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin can decrease the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. Smoking cessation is also critical in preventing the progression of Macular Degeneration.
What are the treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration?
“The last decade saw the advent of new medications that have revolutionized the treatment of Macular Degeneration,” Dr. Mozayan said. “The new drugs counteract the effects of the abnormal factors involved in Macular Degeneration in order to decrease the swelling of the retina and in many cases lead to regression of the abnormal blood vessels. And that is why early detection of Macular Degeneration combined with individualized treatments is critical to your eye health.”
The other disease that has now become an epidemic is Diabetes. How can Diabetes affect the eye?
“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans,” Dr. Mozayan said. “Unfortunately, diabetes is a disease that all too often is diagnosed after it has caused damage to several organs. Inside the eye it can significantly affect your vision by causing changes in the blood vessels of the retina. The good news is that we now have medications and technology that have revolutionized our field and can restore vision in many cases that were deemed lost in the past.”
What are the main treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy?
“A family of “miracle drugs” that we now use are called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs. They act by decreasing the levels of abnormal factors in the eye, improving vascular stability and decreasing the growth of abnormal blood vessels that can bleed inside the eye and severely affect vision. In addition to these drugs, we have the latest Retina LASER at Retina San Diego that can be used in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Our Micropulse LASER allows safer treatments in the central part of your vision.”
How soon should a patient be seen if they were just diagnosed with diabetes?
“If you have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you should get a dilated eye exam by your local eye doctor at the time of your diagnosis, and for people with type 2 diabetes, the recommendation is for a dilated eye exam within 5 years of your diagnosis.”
Additional information about macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy can be found by visiting www.retinasd.com.
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