Age-related Macular Degeneration

Q1. Does age-related macular degeneration only occur in the elderly?
Generally, people aged from 50 to 60 are more likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration. It is less common under 40.

Q2. What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration?
A major symptom of age-related macular degeneration is blurred vision. Patients may see distorted images, or the objects may look deformed and bended. As we see things with both eyes, one may not be aware of any problem when only one eye is affected. Despite the absence of symptoms, you can test your sight from time to time by looking at things with one eye covered. It helps early detection of any possible symptom.     
Q3. Is age-related macular degeneration either atrophic or exudative? What are their differences and how are they treated?
Atrophic age-related macular degeneration is characterised by rapid macular degeneration. Currently there is no effective treatment for atrophic age-related macular degeneration. To delay disease progression and macular degeneration, patients are advised to quit smoking, stay healthy, exercise regularly and maintain a balanced diet.

Exudative age-related macular degeneration is different. It has an earlier onset and can lead to bleeding and blood vessel leakage. Proper treatment should be given during the “golden period” with intravitreous injection as the major option, i.e. injection of vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor. It can control the disease and reduce the risk of disease-induced blindness.

Q4. Is surgery necessary for age-related macular degeneration?
For most patients, only intravitreous injection is required to control the condition. Only in rare cases are surgical procedures considered. These patients suffer extensive haemorrhage in the fundus and are still in early stage of the condition, i.e. those who have been diagnosed within two weeks and are deemed suitable for surgery.       

Q5. What are the differences between the medications for age-related macular degeneration? Which one should I choose?
For age-related macular degeneration, currently all medications, i.e. those injected intravitreously, are vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors. There are three to four choices of medications, and the differences lie in their history of clinical application, prevalence in the industry and duration of action. Generally, they are effective for one to three months with different side effects. Patients are advised to consult their Ophthalmologists in choosing an appropriate inhibitor for disease control and the best clinical outcome.

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