Deviations in the central part of the retina, the macuala, can develop as a result of ageing. The macula is important for seeing clearly at distances and for reading. When there is an eye disease at the level of the macula, the patient will consult their ophthalmologist because of deteriorating vision or sometimes because they see spots or distorted images.
There are 2 types of macula degeneration:
Drusen are spots on the retina that are created by an accumulation of waste materials. Atrophy is the thinning of the retina which results in the retina no longer functioning well.
In general, visual function loss progresses slowly in the dry form of macular degeneration.
In this form, blood vessels are growing in the wrong place under the retina. These blood vessels leak and cause swelling in the retina. Bleeding is also a possibility. Severe vision loss can result in a short period of time.
In order to thoroughly examine the retina, the ophthalmologist will usually use eye drops to dilate the pupil. You will experience blurred vision for a few hours. After this examination you will not be able to drive a car for a number of hours.
There is currently no possible treatment. A healthy diet, protection against the sun, not smoking and dietary supplements can slow the decline a bit. Sometimes loupes or other aids can help while reading ('Low Vision' aids). Eye laser treatment is not applicable in this case.
In order to treat wet macula degeneration, the ophthalmologist will use intravitreal injections with anti-VEGF (runibizumab, aflibercept and bevacizumab). The medication is injected into the eye under local anesthesia. These injections must be administered regularly. The treatment cannot cure the condition, but can stabilize it in many cases.
The ophthalmologist can give some of these injections at the eye clinic in Winksele. Other injections will need to be given at the hospital. In some cases, laser treatment or photodynamic therapy can be advisable.
These eye laser treatments are very different from the eye laser treatments in order to improve eye sight.