What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macula is a small area, also called the yellow spot, located in the middle of the retinal layer responsible for sharp vision. Although it is 5 mm in diameter, it is responsible for central vision. In this area, photoreceptor cells that detect light are dense. Again, this area provides details to be seen. For example; such as reading or threading a needle is performed by the macula. When the macula is not working well, the area under observation is blurry and dark. In macular degeneration, that is, yellow spot disease, peripheral (side)vision is not impaired, but central vision is impaired. For example, one can see the presence of a clock on the wall, but does not know what time it is showing. Macular degeneration does not result in complete blindness. These patients can do their own work at home, but they cannot go out to the street, read, write, watch TV or drive. Macular degeneration is a progressive disease.
The disease is classified as dry (non-exudative) and wet (exudative). Although 80% of the diagnosed cases cause dry type yellow spot disease, wet type yellow spot disease is responsible for 80% of serious visual loss associated with this disease.
What Is Dry Or Wet Macular Degeneration?
Dry macular degeneration or dry yellow spot disease is the most common type of this disease. Dry yellow spot disease can sometimes start in one eye and then appear in the other eye. When one eye is affected, the vision is not affected much since the brain will process the information received from the other eye.
Wet yellow spot disease is observed in patients with dry yellow spot disease. There is a risk of turning into wet form in 10% of dry yellow spot patients. The wet form may go up there for different reasons. These can be summarized as follows:
Visual loss due to abnormal vascular enlargement: There is a vascular rich choroid layer between the sclera and retina structures in the eye. Occasionally, new vessels may appear abnormally in this layer (choroidal neovascularization). These vessels can prevent the retina to function if fluid or blood leaks.
Loss of vision due to accumulation of fluid in the back of the eye: When fluid leaks from the choroid layer, it may sometimes accumulate between a thin layer called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the retina. This leads to a swelling of the macula, causing vision impairment.
What Are The Symptoms Of Yellow Point Disease?
Symptoms in dry yellow spot disease appear slowly and painlessly and progress. Visual loss progresses very rapidly in wet yellow spot disease.
The symptoms can be listed as follows:
- Visual distortion, for example straight lines appear curved
- Central vision loss in one eye or both eyes
- More light is needed when reading or doing fine detail work
- More difficult adaptation to dim environments; inability to get used to the environment, especially when they enter poorly lit restaurants or environments
- Increased blur when reading printed words
- Low color density or brightness
- Difficulty recognizing faces
If you observe the symptoms listed below, you should consult an ophthalmologist immediately.
- Change in central vision
- Distortion in viewing details or colors than before
What Are The Causes Of Yellow Spot Disease?
Although the causes of dry yellow spot disease are not completely known, research has shown that the disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Yellow Spot Disease?
There are many risk factors for yellow spot disease (macular degeneration). Studies show that the following factors have a linear relationship with the incidence of the disease.
Age: The higher the age, the higher the incidence of yellow spot disease. In particular, individuals over 50 years of age are more likely to develop this disease.
- Family history and genetic factors: Research has discovered many genes responsible for yellow spot disease. Therefore, it is thought to be hereditary.
- Race: Yellow spot disease is more common in the white race.
- Tobacco use: Smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke increases the risk of yellow spot disease.
- Obesity: Research has shown that obesity has an impact on the faster progression of early stage yellow spot disease.
- Cardiovascular diseases: If the individual has cardiovascular diseases that affect his heart or blood vessels, she/he is at higher risk for yellow spot disease.
Individuals who develop yellow spot disease and suffer from severe vision loss may eventually become threatened with depression or social isolation. In addition, some patients may experience visual hallucinations called Charles Bonnet syndrome. These hallucinations do not result from a psychological disorder. Hallucinations may be in the form of photopsies, geometric shapes, patterns, faces, human, animal, landscape, vehicles, buildings, lilliputian (like midgets etc.) images, in the form of light vision. These hallucinations develop when the patient is conscious and out of control. Hallucinations are seen over the blurred image and the two can be separated.
Is It Possible To Prevent From Yellow Point Disease?
Although it is not entirely possible to avoid yellow spot disease, it is very important to have eye checks regularly to slow down the progression of the disease. Furthermore, the above-mentioned quality of life measures to be taken by the individual will both reduce the progression of the disease and cause the disease to appear later. Research has shown that eating a diet with vegetables and fruits is slowing down the progression of the disease. In particular, foods containing antioxidants should be in the diet.
How Is Diagnosis Of Yellow Point Disease?
Eye spot examination for patients with yellow dots is important to see if there is a defect in the retina. In addition, your physician may request optic coherence tomography (retinal tomography), fundus fluorescein angiography (eye angiography) and optic coherence tomography angiography (drug-free eye angiography) if deemed necessary. In addition, the patient may perform the Amsler Grid test (checkered paper test) by herself/himself to monitor the course of her/his illness.
What Are The Treatments Of Yellow Point Disease?
Until 10 years ago, abnormal vascular or capillary growths in patients with wet-type yellow spot disease were treated with laser. However, these treatments at best, slowed the progression of the disease, but did not provide any improvement in vision.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors, developed over the last 10 years, have benefited a great deal of wet-type yellow spot patients. The drug administered to the patient by intraocular injections has been shown to stabilize vision in almost all of the yellow spot patients. However, it provides a significant improvement in the visual acuity of many patients.
In dry type yellow spot disease, intraocular injections are not applied. Dietary and nutritional supplements to feed and regenerate this area are recommended to slow the progression of the dry-type yellow spot disease.
Wishing you healthy and beautiful days …