AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, affects many people over the age of 50. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly throughout the world. When AMD damages a part of the retina called the macula it makes seeing things straight before us almost impossible.
The macula makes up only a small fraction of the entire area of the retina, but it is vital to the sight process. Within the macula lies the fovea, a part of the eye full of photoreceptive cells. When any type of lesion emerges in the macula and/or fovea, vision can become severely impaired.
There are several common symptoms experienced with AMD:
- Blurred vision, which can show up when looking at items both near and far away, and is especially noticeable in terms of seeing details of the item.
- Blind spots in their vision, where there is a dark or “blank” area in their field of vision.
- Distorted shape sight, where lines and objects look bent or crooked.
- Changes in color vision or perception.
Many times peripheral and night vision remains normal in those.
Two types of AMD exist:
- Dry AMD
- Makes up about 90% of AMD cases
- Drusen, an abnormal accumulation of tiny yellow or white salt and proteins deposits, accumulates under the macula, causing cell breakdown
- Distorted vision often most noticeable when reading
- Wet AMD
- Much less common than Dry AMD
- Abnormal blood vessels grow in the choroid, a thin tissue layer that supplies the macula with blood
- Breakage of the abnormal vessels promotes deterioration of the choroid and retinal degeneration, causing damage to photo receptor cells
Early and later stage cases of AMD may benefit from high dose regimens of vitamins and minerals to delay the disease’s progress. In cases of wet AMD, treatments include injecting drugs into the eyes and laser therapy to destroy abnormal blood vessels. Additionally, new surgical interventions are becoming available for both wet and dry AMD treatment. ICON can provide both injections and laser therapy treatments for those with AMD.
A common diabetic eye disease, diabetic retinopathy involves progressive damage to the retinal blood vessels. The retina is the part of the eye that senses light and creates signals that are sent to the brain. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to properly use and store sugar. When blood contains too much sugar, it can cause a variety of systems within the body. Diabetes harms the retina’s circulatory system, causing damage to tiny blood vessels that deliver nourishment to the retina. As a result, the vessels leak blood and other fluids. The fluids build up and cause swelling, which leads to blurred vision.
The most common causes of diabetic retinopathy are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Most people experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- The appearance of spots or floaters in their field of vision
- Blurry vision
- A blank or dark area at the center of their field of vision
- Night blindness
There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy classification:
- Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy, involving only small areas of swelling in the retina’s blood vessels
- Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy where there are blockages in some vessels
- Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy, involving more significant blockages
- Proliferative Retinopathy, the disease’s most advanced stage, where new fragile blood vessels grow both on the retina and on the gel that fills the eye and leak blood, causing severe vision loss
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy, such as laser therapy can help correct problems once they exist. Additionally, some medicines can be injected into the eye to treat blood vessel leaks. Laser treatments help to seal leaking blood vessels and inhibit the development of new leaky vessels. ICON can use the LUMENIS trio laser to stabilize the part of the retina that has not yet suffered damage and help to prevent blindness in those with Diabetic Retinopathy.