If asked to name the most common cause of vision problems in America, the average citizen is likely to name cataracts, or near- or farsightedness, as the culprit. However, the true leading cause of vision issues is a condition known as Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD. AMD currently affects as many as 15 million Americans - and is likely to affect many more in the coming years as the country’s older populations continue to grow. Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease, and many people who receive a diagnosis fear losing their vision.
Considering that this issue impacts more Americans than cataracts and glaucoma combined, macular degeneration is definitely one eye problem that we want all of our patients to be aware of. Fortunately, there are effective management options available through Everett & Hurite. Our skilled ophthalmologists and eye surgeons have the training and experience to assist you with macular degeneration. Scheduling a consultation is fast and easy with the online scheduling tool.
The macula is the portion of your eye that collects images and sends them to your brain to be interpreted as sight. As AMD develops, the condition begins damaging the macula - a term used to refer to a small spot that sits near the center of the retina. It is the part of your eyes that collects light and sends to your brain to be transformed into sight. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina and it is responsible for creating a sharp, clear central field of vision.
When the macula is damaged, it affects your ability to receive sensory data perfectly, so the center of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted, or dark - resulting in progressive vision loss. Macular degeneration can be of two types; Wet and dry.
In wet macular degeneration, aberrant blood vessels is the major cause of the problem as they leak blood and fluid. With dry macular degeneration, the macula becomes thin and brittle resulting in the development of tiny clumps of protein. This type of macular degeneration constitutes of about 70 - 80% of cases.
The actual causes of macular degeneration are unknown but for many people, this condition occurs as they near seniority, and scientists and medical researchers believe that this could happen in tandem with a combination of environmental factors. This age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs in three stages: Early, Intermediate and Late.
In the early stage, macular degeneration is very manageable. It can usually be detected during regular eye exams and most people don’t experience vision loss. In the intermediate stage, there might be some some degree of vision loss, and it usually exhibits some noticeable symptoms. In the late stage, vision loss is pronounced and getting treatment at this stage could potentially reduce the progression of the condition, but the chances of completely restoring vision are low. Patients suffering from AMD typically report developing distorted or blurry vision, particularly in the line of sight that sits straight ahead of them. As the disease progresses, the blurry or distorted area may grow in size, and patients are even likely to develop blank spots in their field of vision. Many patients also report that objects in their line of sight appear darker and lose their brightness as the disease progresses.
AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness. However, it can definitely prevent patients from being able to carry out simple everyday activities safely and/or efficiently. As AMD progresses patients are likely to lose the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, cook or fix things around the house - just to name a few tasks AMD can interfere with.
Besides age, some other common risk factors of macular degeneration include:
As of now, AMD is considered incurable once it begins to develop. There is no set action plan can fully prevent AMD either. Treatment focuses on decelerating the condition’s progression and making lifestyle changes to bolster health of the eyes and support healthy vision.
Our expert ophthalmologists would work with you to lead a healthy lifestyle and prevent further vision loss. Some of those efforts include:
In addition to that, patients with the condition can be treated with injections of anti-VEGF medications. Along with that, patients can take certain vitamins, or can use vision aids to help treat its symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Some patients do respond well to laser therapy, which is used to destroy the abnormal blood vessels using laser.
In any case, early detection is key to treating macular degeneration. In many cases patients do not experience symptoms until any damage related to AMD is quite severe. Annual complete eye exams are the best way for patients to ensure their vision is not being damaged without their knowledge. Schedule your comprehensive eye exam with our ophthalmologists today.