Macular degeneration is a very common disease of the macula in older people and is the most common cause of blindness in Switzerland from the age of 50. The macula (yellow spot) is the place in the retina where most photoreceptors (visual cells) are located). In age-related macular degeneration - usually binocular and with increasing age - its loss of function leads to progressive vision loss.
The most important risk factor, as the name suggests, is age. However, genetic predispositions and other factors such as smoking also play an important role. A healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables or supplementation with vitamins(AREAT formula) can reduce the risk, especially in the early forms of age-related macular degeneration. The early detection is usually done by the ophthalmologist. You can also test the function of the macula yourself with the Amsler blackbird grid. With this examination you can detect changes in the central visual field yourself, which you might not be aware of in your daily life. An ophthalmologist should be consulted if you notice any abnormalities.
There are different stages of age-related macular degeneration - from early to late stages. In the late stage the wet and the dry form are distinguished. As usually only the central vision but not the peripheral vision which is used for orientation in space is affected, age-related macular degeneration does not lead to blindness in a narrower sense. Rather, the disease leads to the fact that patients can no longer read or in the worst case no longer recognize faces. In the wet form, in addition to the deterioration of vision with reading difficulties, there are often distortions - straight lines such as table edges or door frames appear curved.
The disease is diagnosed by the ophthalmologist by means of ophthalmoscopy link opthalmoscopy and special imaging techniques such as optical coherence tomography.
In the early stages, a healthy diet or taking vitamin supplements can slow the progression to a late form. There are currently no treatment options for the advanced dry form of age-related macular degeneration. Rather, everyday life can be made more bearable by magnifying visual aids and the existing vision can often still be used in such a way that reading and an independent life without help is possible.
The University Clinic for Ophthalmology at the Inselspital Bern is specially designed for diagnosis with specialized consultation hours for age-related macular degeneration. In addition to consultation hours for macular diseases with the most modern examination methods, it also offers consultation for magnifying vision aids.
In wet macular degeneration, new but diseased blood vessels grow under the retina. These blood vessels bleed easily and lead to swelling and fluid retention in the middle of the retina (macular edema). The bleeding and fluid retention lead to damage to the macula and rapid loss of vision. Therefore this form of macular degeneration is particularly dangerous and requires immediate diagnosis and therapy. The wet form of macular degeneration can be treated effectively by injecting medication into the eye (intravitreal injections). Thereby tiny amounts of a special agent (Lucentis or Eylea) are applied directly into the vitreous cavity of the eye. These agents can effectively treat the wet form and convert it back into a dry form of age-related macular degeneration. Thus, the treatment does not lead to a complete healing, but to a stabilization of the disease. Since the active substance only remains in the eye for a few weeks, this treatment must be repeated regularly, often for years. Regular checks of the retina by our physicians using ophthalmoscopy link ophthalmoscopy, and optical coherence tomography (OCT) control the therapy. At regular intervals, the partner eye is also examined, as the partner eye can often develop wet age-related macular degeneration.
The University Clinic for Ophthalmology at the Inselspital Bern is especially focused on diagnosis with specialized consultation hours for age-related macular degeneration. With its outpatient clinic for intravitreal injections it has a highly specialized facility for the therapy of the most severe, wet, form of age-related macular degeneration.