Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina which can lead to significant permanent central vision loss. The retina is the light sensitive lining on the inside of the eye. Peripheral vision generally remains unaffected. Macular degeneration occurs when cellular byproducts accumulate beneath the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, and lead to cell death. It is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 60 years old. If you have a family history of macular degeneration or any other risk factors it is recommended that you have regular eye exams. Early detection and lifestyle changes can delay or prevent vision changes due to macular degeneration. Envision Specialty EyeCare and Dry Eye Center utilizes some of the most advanced diagnostic testing to detect and monitor changes in the macula due to macular degeneration.

Types of Macular Degeneration (Dry and Wet)

Dry is the most common form of macular degeneration. About 80-90% of people with macular degeneration have dry. Dry macular degeneration usually progresses slowly over time. Wet macular degeneration occurs in approximately 10% of people who have dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration can cause vision to decline rapidly if left untreated.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

  • Blurry central vision

  • Distortion in central vision

  • Blind spot in central vision

  • Difficulty with night vision

  • Difficulty adapting to changing light levels

  • Decreased brightness in colors

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

  • Age

  • Smoking

  • Family history of macular degeneration

  • Poor diet

  • Exposure to UV light

  • More common in Caucasians

Diagnosing Macular Degeneration

Yearly dilated eye examinations are essential for detecting early signs of macular degeneration, especially if you have any risk factors. During a dilated exam your doctor will be able to detect any changes in the macula due to macular degeneration. If there is any suspicion of macular degeneration special imaging, optical coherence tomography, will be performed to identify and monitor any retinal changes due to macular degeneration.

Treatment for Macular Degeneration

While there is no cure for macular degeneration there are several things we can do to help prevent it and slow progression. When it comes to macular degeneration prevention is the best medicine. Wearing UV blocking lenses while outside decreases the amount of UV light reaching the macula, and can decrease risk of macular degeneration over time. A healthy diet with ample colorful vegetables high in antioxidants including but not limited to; spinach, kale, red/yellow/orange bell peppers, and carrots, has been shown to decrease likelihood of developing macular degeneration. Women who exercise regularly are 30% less likely to develop macular degeneration as they age.

‌There are specific eye vitamins (AREDS 2) that have been proven to help slow progression of macular degeneration over time. For people with wet macular degeneration injections of medications into the eye can stabilize leaky blood vessels, and prevent vision from rapidly declining.

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