Science Questions

What is macular degeneration?

Sat, 14th Oct 2006

Part of the show Science of Sight, Eye Diseases and Animal Vision

Question

Margaret in Upminster asked:

I have neovascular macular degeneration of the right eye, which means that I haven't any sight left in that eye. I went to see if I could have laser treatment to cure it but nothing happened. The bad news is that I've been told that there is a 40% chance that I'll get it in the other eye. What is macular degeneration and what are the chances?

Answer

I can't give you an exact chance really. This problem of neovascular degeneration of the retina, which is a devastating cause of visual loss is due, we think, to some sort of metabolic fault in the retina. This allows blood vessels to grow into the retina and then distort the retina. Up until very recently we haven't had very good treatment for it, because lasers can be quite destructive. If you laser a retina, you destroy the retina in the process. But there are some very exciting developments because there are now two new drugs that seem to be helpful in this condition. So it's possible that in the future we may be able to treat people like you with this condition.

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