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Category: Macular Degeneration

Randy Alvarez, host of The Wellness Hour, interviews Michael Samuel, MD about the latest treatments for macular degeneration.

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- [Randy] Well, what are their frequently asked questions? Like on the consult, what do they want to know? So, somebody, let's say they already have a diagnosis from their optometrist or whatever.

- [Dr. Samuel] You know, I think most people want to know, "Am I going to lose my vision? Am I going to go blind?" I get that question more than anything else, "Am I going to go blind?" And I say, "As long as you keep coming in and seeing me, we'll make sure you see the rest of your life." And that's something I can generally promise people if we can catch it early enough, we can get to it early enough.

- So, there's dry and wet? It starts out dry?

- It starts out dry, it can convert to wet. The vitamins slow it down by about 25%. Some other lifestyle modifications, maybe you can reduce it by about 50%. So that's huge in itself. Two, if they get to us quickly if there is a problem, that conversion to wet, that distortion, sudden change in their vision with macular. If they get to us, we start treatment, we can save them 90% of the time.

- I guess a couple of symptoms I want to ask you about, flashes and floaters. This is what they call what?

- So, flashes and floaters is really one of the most common things we see in our office. Flashes are where you see a strobe light go off in your eye. And floaters, we all tend to get floaters in our eye. The little dark spots that move around in our vision as we get older. It's part of the natural aging process. There's a vitreous jelly that takes up most of the space in the eye. When you're young it's like jello in the freezer, and as you get older I say it's like jello on a hot sunny day.

It liquefies, it collapses, when it does that it gets these little clumps in it. Now, floaters alone are generally not a problem. Sudden onset of new floaters sometimes can mean that you tore your retina. The jelly collapses, it pulls on the retina, and it bleeds into the eye. Flashing, the retina doesn't feel pain, it doesn't sense pain, all it does is see light.

Remember poking your eye as a kid?

- Yeah, yeah.

- You'd see, you know, a fire would go off. If you pull on it, or push on the retina, you get a flash of light. So, sudden onset of flashing lights or floaters is really an emergency and something that we want to see.

- Now, by the way, this flashing, does it happen, like, a lot, or is it intermittent?

- It can come all over the place. Sometimes it is just a little flash at night. Most people notice it only in a dark room. It's going on throughout the day but we just don't see it because of the ambient light.

- It's just a flash out of the...

- It's just a flash out of the blue. Some people see a firework go off in their eye at night or in their bedroom. If that happens, call your retina specialist the next day.

- Because something is putting pressure...

- Something is pulling on your retina, and if it pulls hard enough it can tear the retina. And if you tear the retina, that's the first step to a retinal detachment.