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What is Macular Degeneration?


WRITTEN BY: Eye Center
Sunday, May 11th, 2014

Macular degeneration (MD) is a common eye condition that causes damage to the retina, slowly reducing once-sharp vision.

Denise Gallagher, MD, an ophthalmologist at the UPMC Eye Center, explains that there are two types of macular degeneration. The first, dry macular degeneration is the more common kind. Dry MD progresses more slowly than wet MD, and is identified by the presence of small white or yellow deposits on the retina.

Wet macular degeneration is the second, more severe, type. Wet MD accounts for most of the severe vision-related problems associated with the disease. It is identified by the presence of blood vessels in the retina growing and moving toward the center of the retina. Dry MD sometimes may evolve into wet MD.

Both types of macular degeneration more commonly affect adults over 50, which is why the disease is sometimes referred to as age-related macular degeneration.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

  • Blurred spot in the center of vision
  • Increased trouble reading
  • Inability to see color as clearly
  • Straight lines appearing wavy

While the cause of macular degeneration isn’t known, there are some risk factors to be aware of:

  • Genetics/family history
  • Being female (women are more likely to develop MD than men)
  • Eating an unbalanced diet low in vegetables and fruit
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking

Although there is currently no cure for MD, there are some treatment options available to stabilize and sometimes even slightly improve vision. Your doctor may recommend a combination of vitamins or diet changes to slow progression. Additionally, the UPMC Eye Center offers intravitreal injections, a treatment that delivers medicine directly into the eye and has the ability to slow the progression of the disease and potentially improve vision.

Dr. Gallagher adds, “While there is still no cure for macular degeneration (dry or wet), we are excited that the wet form can now be treated with injections to help stabilize and even improve the vision in some cases. Typically, the earlier the injections are started and the more consistently they are given, the better the outcome.”

For more information about the UPMC Eye Center and conditions treated, visit the Eye Center’s website or call 412-647-2200.

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Eye Center

A recognized leader in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and disorders, the physician’s and staff of the UPMC Eye Center work to improve patients’ quality of life through vision preservation and restoration. We personalize and individualize care for each patient, and our care is always patient-focused. Read More