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OPHTHALMOLOGISTS TOLD ABOUT A NEW DISEASE
Age-related macular dystrophy (AMD) – damage to the central region of the retina – is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 50. Unfortunately, people in our country are extremely poorly informed about it. In the meantime, the earlier the disease is detected, the more likely it is to slow down its progression.
Within the framework of the project “Save Sight. Improving access to quality ophthalmic care for older people”, which received support from the Presidential Grants Fund, this year many Russians will be able to undergo free modern diagnostics. Tatiana Avanesova, the founder and chairwoman of the Foundation for Research and Treatment of Retinal Diseases, the head of the Save Sight project, doctor of the ophthalmological department of the Central Clinical Hospital with a Polyclinic of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, told about this to MK.
With AMD, there is a gradual thinning of the central zone of the retina and the choroid. A person loses the ability to see details, central vision becomes blurry, and straight lines can appear distorted, wavy. Gradually, the disease leads to irreversible blindness. In Russia, the incidence of AMD reaches 15 patients per 1000 population. And the older a person is, the higher his/her chances of facing this insidious disease and its dire consequences. For example, in the 52–64 age group, its prevalence is 1.5%, in the 65–74 age group – already 15%, at the age of 75–84 years – 25%, and among people over 85 years old – as much as 30%. According to doctors’ forecasts, within 5 years the number of Russians suffering from this disease could grow to 3.9 million.
In addition to age, risk factors for the development of the disease include a family history (having a relative with AMD), smoking, light eye colour (not brown or black), hyperopia, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prolonged exposure to the sun without sunglasses, low fish intake and mental work. The more of these factors, the higher the risk.
The saddest thing is that at the initial stage of the disease there are no complaints. Gradually, the patient’s brightness and contrast of colors disappear, lines are distorted, there is a need for more lighting. Then difficulties begin in reading and writing (individual letters and even whole words fall
out), visual acuity decreases both in the distance and at close range. Vision may suddenly deteriorate to severe central vision loss in the event of hemorrhage.
There are two forms of macular degeneration – dry and wet. Dry, which, incidentally, occurs in 90% of cases, progresses over decades. But the wet form is much worse and more dangerous, with it the disease progresses quickly. A person may suddenly lose the ability to read, drive a car, or see small details.
But today there are drugs that are injected into the cavity of the eye and allow you to transfer the wet form of macular degeneration to dry. So far, the disease is considered incurable, but doctors can slow down the process by prescribing a special diet, vitamin complexes, vascular drugs, and sometimes with the help of laser or surgical treatment. Alas, if gross retinal damage has already developed, it is still impossible to restore vision. Therefore, it is extremely important to detect the disease at an early stage.
Doctors strongly recommend not to neglect preventive examinations by an ophthalmologist. Today there is a modern diagnostic method – optical coherence tomography – that allows you to identify even tiny areas of irregularities in the retina that are not visible to a specialist during an examination of the fundus. That is, the disease can be identified long before the first symptoms appear. “But the self-control of a person is also very important,” says Dr. Avanesova. “There is a simple Amsler test – a person is invited to look at a special grid, alternately closing his/her eyes. If the lines are distorted, the squares are of unequal size, there are opacities, you should immediately consult a doctor. In everyday life, people do not close their eyes in turn to understand the difference in vision. Therefore, for many, the test results come as a surprise.”
The Foundation for Research and Treatment of Retinal Diseases has won a presidential grant to implement in our country the project “Save Sight. Improving access to quality ophthalmic care for older people”, within which open lectures for people on age-related macular degeneration, health schools, free diagnostics using an optical coherence tomograph will be held throughout the year.
On August 3, 2019, within the framework of the project “Save Sight. Improving access to quality ophthalmic care for older people”, an open lecture was held on the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration, types of this disease, methods of treatment. Particular attention was paid to ways of preventing AMD, attentive attitude to one’s health. The lecture was held in the diagnostic ophthalmological department of the Central Clinical Hospital with a Polyclinic of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation and was conducted by the doctor of the ophthalmological department, Alexander Merabovich Ebanoidze. The event was timed to coincide with the birthday of Academician Svyatoslav Nikolaevich Fedorov, who was born on August 8. “We have achieved success in ophthalmology thanks to the foundation laid by the great S.N. Fedorov, who put his knowledge and efforts into the creation of such a wonderful place as MNTK “Eye Microsurgery”. I can proudly say that I am a graduate of the Fedorov Institute of Science and Technology, brought up in a wise combination of rigour and kindness. Kindness will save the world — these were the words of the great Svyatoslav Nikolaevich,” says Gaik Khachatryan, head of the ophthalmology department of the Central Clinical Hospital with a Polyclinic of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.
The same lectures will also be held in Voronezh and Vladikavkaz. The next OCT screening will take place on September 12 and 13 at the Alekseevsky social service center, the Marfino branch, where from 11 am to 6 pm anyone over 50 can be examined. You can find out about all the activities of this project on the page of the foundation’s website.
1. Put on reading glasses (if you usually wear them) and hold the test 30 cm from your face in good light.
2. Close one eye.
3. Look directly at the center point with your open eye.
4. Looking directly at the center point, notice if all the grid lines are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurry or dark.
5. Repeat this procedure with the other eye.
6. If any part of the grid looks wavy, blurry, or dark, see your ophthalmologist immediately.