Macular Degeneration

We keep learning more and more about the various forms of macular degeneration and I sometimes wish (not for long) that we were back in the days when I started working in Littleover. Macular degeneration was simple then: it happened as you got old – it was even called “Senile” Macular Degeneration at the time – and it was untreatable. The best we could do was to try varying powers of magnifying glass to alleviate the effects of the condition.

As “Senile” became “Age Related” and the condition started to resolve into at least two distinctly separate pathologies life became more complex. Laser treatment was tried to seal off the leaking blood vessels that cause the problem with wet ARMD – and it stopped the disease progressing so quickly but at the expense of lots of little blind spots form the pattern of laser burns applied to the retina. Then came a breakthrough – Photo Dynamic Therapy. A liquid substance was developed that was injected into the patients arm and set in the leaking vessels in the retina when you shone Ultra Violet light on it.  This was great, except that because the liquid was injected into the blood stream you had to keep the patient out of any ultra violet light (including direct daylight) for 48 hours. Getting them to and from the eye clinic could be very difficult as appointments always seemed to happen on bright sunny days.

Finally the drug “Lucentis” was cleared for ophthalmic use on the NHS and the treatments we now have came into use. There is still no treatment for the dry type of the condition but there are fascinating pieces of research going on which I am sure will eventually yield a solution. In the meantime there are spectacle lenses being developed that move the image slightly to a less damaged bit of retina.

As you may know this is the last of these articles that I shall write as a practising optometrist, but hopefully not the last that I shall write altogether. From April onwards my inner Grumpy Old Man may surface rather more often although I shall try to contain him a little. Don’t forget to bring in your old glasses to send off to Vision Aid Overseas but also, during March, we are collecting for two other charities to mark my retirement: Sight Support Derbyshire and The Royal National Lifeboats Institute. If you want to add to this collection please leave your contribution with the reception desk.

Title Image Credit: Net Doctor UK

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