Eye Care Blog

Eye problems including macular degeneration

Added 9/6/2010

Everyone will inevitably age as time passes by. In this process, people gain more experience and become more savvy and wise. On the other hand, aging is disappointing for many people because of health concerns. An old body is harder to move, causing much inconvenience in daily life. And one’s memory will lose some degrees of sharpness. Some problems directly associated with the body will probably occur, such as aches and pains.

Yet another important sensation of the body that can be easily affected by aging is eyesight. Potential problems include nearsightedness, farsightedness, tired eyes, watery eyes, dry eyes and so forth. These mild problems are still within the control of modern corrective lenses and certain medications. However, they may affect the patients’ normal performance during many daily activities such as seeing the loved ones, reading a book, watching television and so on.

Besides those slight eye problems stated above, there are more serious ones and even diseases. For instance, age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the world. AMD patients usually suffer from central vision loss, while the peripheral vision remains intact. Some of them even see black spots and wavy lines that cause vision distortion. Possibly contributing factors to macular degeneration include poor blood supply to the eye, oxidation of the retina and leaky capillaries.

Until now, age related macular degeneration is untreatable, either by corrective lenses or eye drops. There is also no medically acceptable cure for this eye disease. But professionals have found out some ways to stop, slow down and even reverse age related macular degeneration. Old people need to receive regular eye exams from an eye doctor every necessarily. Macular degeneration is a chronic disease that a patient may not realize it at an early stage. Protection against the sun rays is also important because UV rays and blue light can cause oxidation in the retina. Healthy eyes require regular intake of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants etc. In addition, obesity and smoking are negative factors of eye health.

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MCS therapy for AMD

Added 20/5/2010

Still in off-label use, the micro-stimulation (MCS) therapy is thought to improve eye health by increasing the blood flow to the eyes. MCS therapy uses a small battery-operated device to deliver low-intensity electricity to points around the eyes. In this way, more oxygen is allowed to get into the tissues. In addition, MCS therapy can help remove waste products and stimulate retinal cells that have become dormant and sluggish.

Until now, MCS therapy has only undergone a two-year preliminary trial involving 120 participants. Being considered to treat the retinal disease, MCS therapy using a special device is still practiced in off-label. But there are many positive signs of the therapy. Until now, there are no side effects associated with this noninvasive and painless therapy. Among participants of the trial, no cases show an increase in the conversion to the wet form of age related macular degeneration. According to the NIH reports, “one of the advantages...is that the incidence of adverse affects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions”.

It seems that MCS only lacks an official approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who regulates the sale of medical devices. In fact, all medical devices should receive FDA approval before being available to the public. This is the basic rule all medical companies should obey. Originally used to relieve chronic, untreatable pain, the devices now used in MCS therapy must present enough evidence that they are reasonably safe and effective. Only with an approval from the FDA, MCS device can be chosen by doctors in the best interest of their patients.

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The possible main cause of macular degeneration

Added 13/5/2010

The support tissue that maintains the macula may break down and lead to macular degeneration. At the beginning, waste and lipid deposits that clog this support tissue accumulate. When the level is up to a maximum, it is hard for the macula to keep rods and cone cells clean and supplied with adequate oxygen. Lacking of oxygen, the rods and cones eventually asphyxiate, and blood vessels will be abnormal and be prone to leak, which cause the rods and cones to asphyxiate even more quickly.

There are two prominent theories that can explain why macular degeneration comes into being. The first possible cause is poorly functioning blood vessels. The macula's support tissue do not be able to pick up waste efficiently enough or deliver oxygen consistently enough, so the macula is full of waste and lacks adequate oxygen, which kills the support tissue cells and then the rod and cove cells of the macula itself. To adapt to new environment, new abnormal vessels come into being to provide more oxygen, but the new ones are so weak to be likely to leak. In a word, the job is so stressful that the blood vessels become over whelmed.

The second possible cause is damaged or abnormal waste tips. Rods and cone cells have disposable lipid (fatty) tips. Normally RPE (a layer of tissue supporting the macula) collects these tips from the macula, and then transports them on a "conveyor belt" to waiting blood vessels which will then flush them in the bloodstream. But when it comes to an abnormal situation, the tips fall off, and new tips grow, which lack RPE to indentify and eliminate them. As a result, the macula can not get enough fresh oxygen, eventually rods and cones are killed.

However, which cause is the key reason is not ascertained so far. May be a combination of both, but the common role is free radicals, which explains why age, smoking, blue or light colored eyes, a family history and our diets are all risk factors. It tells us what we can do to reduce our risk.

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