Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 50. The eye disease occurs when the central portion of the retina, known as the macula, wears down. There is no cure for macular degeneration, but our optometrist at Dr. Dorothy Park & Associates in Columbia, SC, can decide the best form of treatment to help slow the progression of the disease.
What Are the Two Types of Macular Degeneration?
The two forms of macular degeneration that affects your central vision are:
- Dry: This form of AMD causes yellow deposits called drusen to develop under the retina.
- Wet: This type causes abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. Over time, they can leak fluid or blood and scar the macula.
Who Is at Risk for Macular Degeneration?
You have a higher chance of developing macular degeneration if you have one of the following factors:
- A family history of macular degeneration
- Being over the age of 50
- Suffer from high blood pressure
- Are overweight
- Eat a high saturated fat diet
- Smoke cigarettes
What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
In the early stages of AMD, there are often no noticeable symptoms. As the disease progresses, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Straight lines looking like they are bent
- Reduced central vision in one or both of your eyes
- Seeing colors less bright
- Needing brighter lights when doing close-up work
- Increased blurry vision
- Difficulty adapting to dim lights
- Trouble recognizing faces
How Is AMD Diagnosed?
Macular degeneration can be detected during an annual eye exam. During your routine visit, our optometrist may ask you to look at an Amsler grid, which is a graph that allows you to notice any blurry or blank spots in your vision. We may also dilate your eyes with special eye drops to widen the pupil, enabling us to view the inside of your eye. To detect abnormal blood vessels or changes in the retina, our doctor may inject fluorescein in your arm. As the fluorescein reaches your blood vessels in the eye, we will take photos of the retina.
How Is Macular Degeneration Treated?
As mentioned above, AMD does not have a cure. Our eye doctor may suggest that you take some nutritional supplements to help slow vision loss, if you have dry AMD. Wet macular degeneration can be treated with anti-VEGF medications as they stop abnormal blood vessels from developing in the retina. Laser surgery is another optometry option that can treat wet AMD. The number of blood vessels forming or leaking in the retina can be reduced with laser light beam.
Early Diagnosis and Treatment Is Key to Preserving Eyesight
If you are experiencing the symptoms of macular degeneration, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Dorothy Park & Associates in Columbia, SC, as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can have consequences to your vision. To schedule an appointment, give us a call today at 803-254-6306.