What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for Americans aged 55 and older, and it is incurable. It is caused by the degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina that is responsible for the majority of your vision. It is caused by cellular debris or blood vessels form behind the retina, which can cause it to detatch, which causes blindness.

There are two types: dry and wet. The wet form of macular degeneration is more severe, although much less common (approximately 15% of all cases are wet).

Symptoms may come gradually, and not be noticed initially in a patient with dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration usually comes with very rapidly deteriorating vision. Other symtoms of macular degeneration include blurry vision (especially blurry central vision), shadows or "holes" in the vision, and loss of contrast.

One of the best ways to detect macular degeneration before the onset of symptoms a patient might notice is through regular retinal photography. There are some tell-tale signs of macular degeneration, including yellowish "drusen" just behind the retina, and overgrowths of blood vessels in areas they don't belong, that are only detectable with a close view of the retina.

If you notice any gradual or sudden loss of vision, please see your eye care professional immediately.

How is Macular Degeneration treated?

Sadly, there is no cure for macular degeneration, but there are several treatments that can aid in stopping the progression of the disease and help to preserve vision. These treatments include medications injected into the eye, laser treatments, and surgery.

Some studies have indicated that certain individuals with intermediate to advanced cases of dry age-related macular degeneration may benefit from vitamin supplements, including vitamins C, E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper. In those individuals, these supplements were shown to help decrease the rate of vision loss.*

Finally, people with macular degeneration find that low-vision aids, such as hand-held and electronic magnification tools, may make reading and hobbies more comfortable.

Notice a change in your vision? Schedule an exam today and we will take a look! Call 775-787-3939.