Macular degeneration is a condition that reduces vision in the central region of the retina, leaving peripheral vision intact. It does not result in complete blindness, but reduces sometimes progressively and sometimes rapidly the visual acuity.
In the mild form of the disease (dry) vision is initially about 5/10 and gradually decreases, while in the wet form the patient may suddenly lose a large percentage of his vision and his visual acuity ranges from 1/10-1/20. Macular degeneration occurs in people over 60 years of age, but in the last decade cases have increased drastically in much younger people. Usually, only one eye is initially affected and for this reason most patients do not realize the existence of the condition until the second eye is affected.
The macula is the central region of the retina of the eye on which the rays of light are focused and the vision is particularly acute because it is there that the most photosensitive cells of the eye, the so-called cones, are located. With cones we recognize the words in a text and so we read, drive, distinguish the features of a person, we can see the details of the image and perceive the colors. The macula is the most functional and at the same time sensitive point of the retina. The macula can be affected by many diseases called maculopathies and differ in etiology, but also in treatment.
The most important and common macular disease is age-related macular degeneration, which is a primary cause of a large decrease in central vision.
There are two forms of the disease, the dry and the wet.
The majority of patients suffer from the dry form, which creates a progressive deterioration of visual acuity. Central vision becomes insufficient and, regardless of whether patients have recently changed their glasses, they cannot move comfortably, read, perceive details and colors.
The wet form is more “aggressive”, can manifest itself suddenly and progresses rapidly. Central vision is lost very quickly due to the development of pathological vessels in the macular region which cause swelling or bleed, creating black spots (scotomas) that prevent them from seeing.
Macular degeneration is not cured but treated. No surgery or medication can restore vision in the center and stop the spread of pathological vessels. No method to date can stop, or even slow down, the progression of the disease.
In wet form, current injections with intravitreal drug infusions are regularly reviewed and only help to convert the liquid form to dry, but not to improve vision, which is the case in very few cases.
Do vitamins help to cope with the disease?
A balanced diet and the consumption of green vegetables and fruits – rich in lutein, zeaxanthin and carotenoids – helps in the proper functioning of the natural defense mechanism of the eyes. However, over time it is difficult to maintain the levels of nutrients, which is why it is necessary to take dietary supplements and preparations rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The pharmacist is the most qualified to advise the patient on this.
The restoration of visual distress of a person with macular degeneration is based on the systematic use of personalized special glasses.
Magnifying glasses and standard aids serve only to enlarge letters and objects, but for occasional use. Over time, and as the disease progresses, magnifying glasses and conventional glasses are not enough no matter how strong they are.
The solution to this major problem comes from the optometrist specialized in low vision, which after a thorough examination lasting at least one hour selects special glasses.
These special glasses are made exclusively in America in the laboratories that supply NASA with hypersensitive optical instruments.
These special glasses are unique because they diffuse light throughout the retina and not only in the center (macula), as do simple glasses and other low vision aids.
The periphery of the retina does not suffer from macular degeneration. With the special glasses, the patient’s peripheral vision is utilized and he is trained to behave like the macula.
With the daily use of special and personalized glasses, visual acuity is initially stabilized and progressively increased. The patient can from the very first moment read texts fluently, even a newspaper, and within a short time return to daily activities, re-recognize details and colors and move around with greater ease.
Thus, patients with macular degeneration become autonomous again and regain quality of life.