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Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adulthood. The most important part of the retina is destroyed, so that sharp vision is no longer possible. In the worst case, a widespread blindness threatens. With medication and minor surgery, the disease can be delayed if treated early.
Although the macular degeneration is a disease of the retina, it is not the entire retina damaged, but mainly a specific area. The area is called macula lutea or "yellow spot". This is a roundish, approximately five millimeters large area in the center of the retina, which stands out from its environment by a special density of light sensory cells.
A distinction is made between the age-related macular degeneration of those in which gene defects or other factors are the cause. In addition, a distinction is made between wet and dry macular degeneration.
75 percent of patients with age-related macular degeneration are known as dry macular degeneration. The insufficiently transported away waste products of the photoreceptors and especially lipofuscin are deposited and form in some places larger associations, which are called "drusen". Drusen-induced extensive damage to the retinal pigment epithelium is also known as "geographic atrophy". As dry macular degeneration progresses slowly, it initially has little effect on vision. However, it can change into a wet macular degeneration at any time.
The wet macular degeneration (exudative form) is almost always the result of a dry macular degeneration. The pathological deposits in the retina lead to the destruction of the cells of the retinal pigment epithelium and create gaps in the membranes under the retinal layer. In addition, the blood supply is disturbed by the choroid and the retina at the affected sites are no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen.
Dry macular degeneration focuses on the administration of substances that prevent damage to the retinal pigment epithelium in the macula. Among them are mainly zinc and copper oxide as well as so-called antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, or beta-carotene. Lutein is a substance that also naturally finds itself in the macula and helps to form the macular pigment. Similar to antioxidants, this natural "dye" protects photoreceptors in the retina from damage from short-wave light or free radicals.
In addition, recent studies have shown that the administration of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid has a positive effect on the course of macular degeneration.