If you were asked right now about wet macular degeneration, would you be able to answer? If not, you're not alone. Despite being an extremely common eye condition that affects as many as 15 million Americans, very few people are aware of macular degeneration. It's important to note that macular degeneration impacts more Americans than cataracts and glaucoma combined. As highlighted by the National Eye Institute, raising awareness and knowledge about wet macular degeneration is crucial. Let's ensure all our patients are well-informed about this significant eye problem.


What Is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the leading cause of vision loss in individuals aged 55 and older in the United States. This incurable eye disease occurs when the central portion of the retina deteriorates, affecting the macula - the part of the eye responsible for our sharp and detailed center field of vision. As the macula is damaged, our ability to focus on images becomes compromised, resulting in blurry, distorted, or dark images.

As the disease progresses, simple tasks like driving, reading, and recognizing faces or colors become increasingly challenging. However, there are treatments available for macular degeneration. Laser treatment can be used to target and treat abnormal blood vessels that may develop in the retina. Additionally, there is new blood vessel growth which can be inhibited to slow down the progression of the disease.

While these treatments can help preserve central vision, it's important to note that they may not fully restore vision or improve peripheral vision. Regular eye exams and early detection are crucial in managing macular degeneration and seeking appropriate macular degeneration treatment options.

How Does Macular Degeneration Present As It Develops?

It is important to note that macular degeneration can manifest at varying rates among patients. Some individuals may not experience vision loss until the condition has progressed significantly, while others may notice rapid changes in their vision due to a faster disease progression. In both cases, individuals with macular degeneration may eventually experience visual distortion or blurriness in one or both eyes, particularly in their central field of vision. Over time, this blurry or distorted area may expand or even create a blind spot in their visual field. Abnormal blood vessels play a significant role in this condition.

While macular degeneration does not result in complete blindness, its symptoms, particularly the loss of central vision, can significantly impact daily tasks and safety.

 What Causes Macular Degeneration?

While the exact causes of macular degeneration are still unclear, thanks to recent research efforts, experts know more about the risk factors for macular degeneration now than they once did. Risk factors for macular degeneration include:

  • Age: Age is a significant factor in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with individuals over the age of 60 being more susceptible to the condition. However, it is important to note that AMD can also occur in individuals of any age.
  • Race: AMD tends to be more prevalent among Caucasian patients compared to those of other ethnicities.
  • Family History: Individuals with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk of developing the condition compared to those without a family history.
  • Certain Lifestyle Choices: Research has shown that certain lifestyle choices can impact the risk of developing AMD. For example, smoking has been found to double the risk of developing the condition. Additionally, individuals who do not exercise regularly or fail to maintain a healthy diet rich in vegetables are also more likely to develop AMD.

When it comes to treating AMD, options such as photodynamic therapy can be considered. In cases where AMD progresses and leads to severe vision loss, low vision aids can help individuals cope with the condition. It is important to discuss both medical and family history with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for managing AMD.

Are There Ways To Prevent Or Cure Macular Degeneration?

While macular degeneration is considered incurable, there are various treatment options available for patients with this condition. These include injections of medications, intake of specific vitamins, and the use of vision aids to alleviate the symptoms. In certain cases, doctors have successfully delayed the progression of macular degeneration and even reversed some vision loss.

Early detection is paramount in treating and minimizing the impact of macular degeneration. Since this condition often starts developing before symptoms of vision loss appear, individuals with macular degeneration may not initially be aware of the damage to their retina. Regular and comprehensive eye exams, including optical coherence tomography, are crucial to identify any signs of macular degeneration. Consulting with an eye doctor is essential to ensure proactive management of wet AMD and maintain optimal eye health.

What Should I Do If I Experience A Vision Problem?

If you notice any changes in or loss of vision, especially straight lines, between your examinations, it is important to contact our offices immediately. Our staff will prioritize scheduling patients who complain about such vision issues on an emergent basis. Once you arrive at our offices, we will assess if dry macular degeneration is causing your vision problems. Based on our diagnosis, we will recommend appropriate treatments. We also encourage patients to discuss any concerns about their eye health with their doctor at Everett And Hurite.

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