Macular Degeneration Treatment
Swedish provides advanced treatment for all kinds of vision problems — including macular degeneration. Our surgical and laser-treatment facilities are fully equipped and state-of-the-art. And our highly skilled ophthalmic surgeons, nurses and technicians bring a high level of experience and teamwork to every surgical procedure.
Appointments & Referrals
To schedule a routine eye exam, or consult with a physician about surgery, contact a Swedish ophthalmologist.
About macular degeneration
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a progressive disorder that affects the macula — the central area of the retina responsible for sharp, central and color vision. The retina, a light-sensing membrane that lines the back of the eye, captures and transmits images to the brain. Macular degeneration results only in the loss of central vision — your ability to see objects that are in the center of your field of view. Peripheral vision is not affected.
Who gets macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is common in older people and is considered a process of aging. The incidence of the disorder increases with each decade over age 50, to almost 35 percent by age 75. Other risk factors include a family history of macular degeneration, cigarette smoking, injury, infection, inflammation and extreme nearsightedness. In addition, Caucasians are more at risk for macular degeneration than other races.
What causes macular degeneration?
There are two types of macular degeneration: "dry" (atrophic) and “wet" (exudative).
Dry macular degeneration is the most common type. It is caused by aging and by the thinning of the tissues of the macula. Vision loss is usually gradual.
Wet macular degeneration, which accounts for about 10 percent of all cases, is caused by abnormal blood vessels forming in and under the macula. These new blood vessels leak fluid and blood, causing distortion and blurring of central vision. Vision loss may be rapid and severe.
How is dry macular degeneration treated?
Unfortunately, there is no way to restore vision that has been lost as a result of dry macular degeneration. However, your ophthalmologist will want to monitor your condition because it can turn into wet macular degeneration, a serious condition with a rapid onset. Vision aids such as magnifying devices, closed-circuit television, large-print reading materials and special lighting can help you cope with your visual impairment.
How is wet macular degeneration treated?
In its early stages, wet macular degeneration can be treated with laser surgery.
What's involved in laser surgery?
During this brief outpatient procedure, your ophthalmologist will use a laser beam to seal the leaking blood vessels that are damaging the macula. A topical anesthetic makes the procedure painless.
How safe is laser surgery?
Laser procedures to treat wet macular degeneration are considered relatively safe. Complications are infrequent.
Will laser surgery fully restore vision?
Unfortunately, it will not. With macular degeneration, the objective is to prevent further vision loss.
How long can I expect the surgery to last?
Laser treatments usually take between 10 and 20 minutes.
How much discomfort should I expect right after surgery and in the days to follow?
With a laser procedure, you should not experience any postoperative discomfort.
What happens after treatment?
Laser surgery is done as an outpatient procedure. You'll most likely go home after a short stay in the recovery area of the Swedish Eye Center. After your laser surgery, your vision may be slightly blurry for a couple of hours. Once home, wait for any blurred vision to subside before resuming your normal routine.
Will I need any follow-up visits?
Your ophthalmologist will probably want to see you within two or three weeks after the laser surgery and again for regular checkups to determine the success of your treatment.