Both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are leading causes of vision loss in people over age 50. It is possible (and somewhat common) for these conditions to occur simultaneously. So what exactly are these conditions and is treatment possible when they occur at the same time?
Macular degeneration explained
Macular degeneration is an eye condition where a part of the retina, known as the macula, is damaged. Vision loss with AMD, particularly central vision and the ability to discern fine details, is common.
There are two types of AMD – dry AMD and wet AMD. The dry form is most common. It occurs when parts of the macula thin with age and tiny clumps of protein grow, which can cause vision to worsen over time. Wet AMD is less common. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina.
At this time, there is no known cure for macular degeneration, but lifestyle changes like exercise, avoiding smoking, following a healthy diet and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light have been reported to slow the progression of the disease.
Facts about cataracts
Cataracts are another common age-related condition. They occur when proteins clump together in the lens of the eye. Normally, the eye’s lens is clear, but a lens with a cataract appears cloudy or foggy. When a cataract grows large enough, vision can become blurry or hazy, similar to looking through a foggy or dusty windshield. Colors may also lose their vibrancy and appear dull.
Cataracts are treated with surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens, or IOL.
Can I have cataract surgery if I also have macular degeneration?
Because both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are fairly common, it’s natural to ask if cataract surgery is possible when macular degeneration is present. The answer is that in some cases it is possible, but depending on which condition is causing the most severe vision loss, it may or may not be recommended.
When both cataracts and AMD are present, eye doctors will typically examine the retina to assess its condition and also examine the eye’s lens to determine how much vision the cataract may be blocking. If replacing the lens is not likely to improve vision significantly, eye doctors will usually not recommend cataract surgery. But if AMD is in its early stages and cataract surgery could make a positive impact on vision and quality of life, it may be recommended.
If you are experiencing symptoms of vision loss or dull or blurry vision, it is important to see a qualified eye doctor. Early detection of eye diseases is critical to management and treatment.
For more information about cataract surgery or to learn about the IC-8 IOL, visit: www.ic8lens.com.