Older age-related macular degeneration couple drinking coffee looking at camera

What to Expect During Macular Degeneration Surgery

Macular degeneration is an eye problem that affects your central vision. While we can't completely cure it, using laser surgery can help slow it down. 

In this helpful guide, the experienced Wichita, Kansas eye doctors at Grene Vision Group will break down the different types of macular degeneration, their treatments, and what to expect from macular degeneration surgery.

What Are the Risks of Macular Degeneration Surgery?

Laser photocoagulation surgery aims to prevent severe vision loss over time. However, it can sometimes result in a small blind spot due to scarring. 

Your doctor will carefully explain the potential benefits and risks of the procedure to you. This type of eye surgery tends to be most effective for individuals with blood vessels that are closely grouped. For those with more spread-out blood vessel formations, the surgery might not offer the same benefits.

Macular Degeneration Surgery Preparation

It's essential to talk with your eye doctor about all available treatment choices before thinking about surgery. Laser photocoagulation, like other surgical procedures, comes with its risks, one of which includes further vision impairment. Starting with medication treatments might be a good first step. 

If you decide to proceed with the surgery, the preparation is minimal. We'll use special drops to widen your pupils during the operation. Please make sure you have someone to drive you to the clinic and back home afterward.

What Surgery Day is Like

Upon arriving for your surgery, you'll be guided to a seat for the procedure. The doctor will apply eye drops to dilate your pupils. To ensure comfort, they might also use numbing drops or a local anesthetic.

When it's time to start the surgery, you'll rest your face on a chin support. A special lens will then be positioned in front of your eye to help the doctor clearly see the area they're treating. You'll be directed to look straight or towards a particular light.

Your doctor will use a laser to target and seal the problematic blood vessels in your eye. Each time the laser activates, you might notice a brief flash. The number of these flashes or laser pulses will vary based on your eye's condition. Generally, the whole procedure takes around 30 minutes.

What is Macular Degeneration Surgery Recovery Like?

Following the surgery, your doctor might place a patch or bandage over your eye. The dilation from the eye drops will last a few hours, and it's typical to experience blurred vision for a day or even a bit longer. You might also notice floaters in your vision, but these should fade over time.

Your doctor will give you specific guidelines on how long to keep the eye covered, recommended medications for any discomfort, and the schedule for follow-up appointments. Remember, your vision might remain blurred for at least the day after the procedure.

While neither laser photocoagulation nor other treatments can fully cure macular degeneration or undo existing damage, the main aim of these interventions, including surgery, is to minimize further harm and vision loss.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Now that we’ve discussed the particulars of macular degeneration surgery, it may be helpful to learn a bit more about how the condition impacts your eye.

Macular degeneration affects the retina, which is a tissue layer at the back of the eye, specifically in a region called the macula. The macula is vital as it senses light, allows you to see colors and fine details, and is responsible for your straight-ahead vision, also referred to as central vision. There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Dry AMD and Wet AMD. 

Dry AMD

About 80% of individuals with macular degeneration suffer from its dry variant. In this type, the macula gets dry and fragile, leading to protein clumps that blur central vision. While there's no cure for dry macular degeneration, using specific nutritional supplements has been found to slow its advancement.

Wet AMD

Eventually if left untreated, dry age-related macular degeneration can eventually become wet age-related macular degeneration. 

In this version of the condition, fresh blood vessels emerge beneath the retina. These vessels subsequently leak blood and other liquids into the macula, leading to the formation of scars. As these scars accumulate, they result in blurred and lost central vision. Notably, vision issues tend to arise faster with this variant of the disease so symptoms are much more noticeable.

It's crucial to seek treatment once you reach the wet AMD stage as vision loss is quicker and permanent.

Other Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration

Aside from surgery, there are several other treatment options available for patients with macular degeneration. Which treatments are most effective for you depends on which type of macular degeneration you have. For Wet AMD, medications and minor laser treatments can delay the progress of your condition. 

Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs are used to slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels to prevent leakages into the macula. Another option is photodynamic therapy, which involves non-thermal laser treatments to destroy abnormal blood vessels and intravenous medication to slow the growth of further blood vessels.

For dry AMD, it’s recommended to take nutraceuticals to halt the progression of the disease to the wet form. 

For more information on which treatment options are best for you, schedule a consultation with your local Wichita macular degeneration specialist at Grene Vision Group.

Book an Appointment at Grene Vision Group

Even if your macular degeneration has progressed to the point where you need macular degeneration surgery, it’s still a good idea to get regular comprehensive eye exams. Macular degeneration has no cure and vision loss from it is permanent, so managing your condition is crucial to preserving your eyesight. 

To schedule your macular degeneration consultation, find a Grene Vision Group location in the Wichita, Kansas area near you. You’re not alone in dealing with your macular degeneration. We’re only ever a call or click away.

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