Macular degeneration, also referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a retinal disease in which the central part of the retina, called the macula, deteriorates. AMD causes loss of central vision, while peripheral (or side) vision remains normal. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in individuals over the age of 50 and has irreversible effects. If you think you may be developing signs of AMD, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. While there is currently no cure for AMD, it can be treated and progression can be slowed significantly. For more information on macular degeneration, continue reading below.
Table of Contents:
- What is macular degeneration?
- What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
- How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
- Who is at risk for macular degeneration?
- What is the treatment for macular degeneration?
- What is wet macular degeneration?
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What is macular degeneration?
Because macular degeneration most commonly occurs in older individuals, it is also known as age-related macular degeneration. The disease causes the macula to deteriorate, which leads to a sharp decline in central vision and potentially blindness if left untreated. The macula is the critical, central part of the retina that helps us see high-resolution, color images in well-lit environments. There are two types of AMD:
- Dry Macular Degeneration is the more common form of macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration occurs when parts of the macula begin to thin with age and a yellow protein called drusen begins to grow in the macula. As the drusen begin to grow larger and the light sensitive parts of the macula get thinner and die, central vision will slowly go away.
- Wet Macular Degeneration is the less common form of macular degeneration that occurs when new blood vessels begin to grow beneath the macula. These new vessels begin to leak fluid into the retina. Eventually, this causes scarring, which leads to a quick and permanent loss of central vision.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is most commonly associated with a decline in the central vision only. When focusing on an object, it may appear blurred, while the surrounding objects are clear. With wet macular degeneration, objects or lines can appear wavy. AMD patients may be sensitive to glare or have trouble reading as well.
How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
Macular degeneration can often be diagnosed with a routine eye exam. Your optometrist will be able to spot the drusen that cause vision loss or you may be asked to look at an Amsler-grid (a pattern of straight lines) to see if it appears wavy. If your doctor suspects macular degeneration, you will likely be given a more in depth examination to confirm these suspicions.
Who is at risk for macular degeneration?
The risk of macular degeneration may increase for individuals who:
- Are over 50
- Are overweight
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Have heart disease
- Eat lots of saturated fats (butter, cheeses, meats)
- Have a family history of AMD
What is the treatment for macular degeneration?
Although there are no cures for macular degeneration, the disease can be slowed significantly if it is caught in the early stages. Your doctor may prescribe a regiment of vitamins for starters, as well as some anti-angiogenesis drugs that can prevent unwanted blood vessel growth. In some cases, laser therapy may be appropriate as well. When managed, it is rare that patients experience a complete loss of vision from AMD.
What is wet macular degeneration?
There are two major types of age related macular degeneration (AMD) in adults. The less common but more severe type of AMD is wet macular degeneration. This type of macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels leak fluid or blood into the macula of the eye. When fluid leaks behind the macula it can cause a bump in the macula which will distort or adversely affect vision. Wet macular degeneration always starts out as dry macular degeneration. It is important to see an eye doctor frequently so that you can catch early warning signs of macular degeneration before it begins to severely impact your ability to see clearly. Those who live in Louisiana can visit Louisiana Eye & Laser to schedule an appointment with one of our eye care specialists. We will be more than happy to schedule routine eye exams to identify any potential warning signs and get ahead of any vision threatening diseases.
Visit Louisiana Eye & Laser
Don’t let AMD stop you from living life to the fullest! Without diagnosis and treatment, age-related macular degeneration can be a crippling disease that may even lead to blindness. At Louisiana Eye & Laser, we’ve helped countless AMD patients manage and live with their condition. If you are at an elevated risk for developing AMD or if you are experiencing symptoms, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with our experts. Simply call, schedule online or visit one of our locations to set up an eye exam.