Having dim or distorted eyesight can seriously affect your ability to engage in the activities you enjoy, and macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of sight reduction in older people. Sean M. Stevens, OD, and Tiffany Brawner, OD, at ReVision Optix in Simpsonville and Greenville, South Carolina, can help slow the decline in vision caused by macular degeneration and give you better sight for years to come. Find out more by calling ReVision Optix today, or book an appointment online.
Macular degeneration is a condition that happens when the center of the retina, called the macula, suffers deterioration. This deterioration in the macula most often develops as people age, so the condition is also referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Macular degeneration takes one of two forms:
In dry macular degeneration, small deposits of a yellow material called drusen appear in the macula. As these deposits increase in size or start to spread, your vision becomes dim or distorted, particularly when you’re reading. As the condition progresses, light-sensitive cells in your eye thin and die, causing blind spots, and in the more advanced stages of dry AMD, you can lose your central vision.
Wet macular degeneration involves a process called choroidal neovascularization, in which the growth of abnormal veins beneath the macula leads to leakage of blood and fluid into your retina. As a result, your vision distorts, so you see wavy instead of straight lines, and you could lose your central vision. In time the bleeding veins form scar tissue that causes permanent central vision loss.
The most common form of AMD is dry macular degeneration, within which vision loss isn’t normally as severe as it is in wet AMD. However in some cases having the dry form can lead to the wet form, and subsequently a more serious level of sight loss.
In some people, there’s a genetic susceptibility to macular degeneration, so you may have a higher risk of developing AMD if any of your relatives have the condition. Other factors that place you at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration include:
Women are more likely to develop macular degeneration than men.
When it first starts to develop, you might not even be aware you have AMD, but as the macular degeneration progresses you notice a blurry spot or dimness in your central vision. Over time the spot increases in size and might darken.
You’re most likely to see the effects of macular degeneration when you’re trying to read the fine print or as you’re driving, and you may also notice changes in color perception. If you have any symptoms of macular degeneration, it’s important to get a checkup at ReVision Optix as soon as possible.
Macular degeneration is most often picked up during a routine eye exam. When you attend your exam at ReVision Optix, your optometrist examines your eyes for drusen, the yellow clumps seen in dry AMD. They also check how well you can see straight lines using an Amsler grid.
If signs of macular degeneration are found, your optometrist will perform an angiography or optical coherence tomography (OCT). Angiography involves injecting dye into your arm vein that travels to the eye, where it colors the veins. Photos will then show the site of any abnormal blood vessels to confirm AMD. The OCT test is a dye-free method of detecting fluid and blood under your retina.
Macular degeneration isn’t curable at present, but treatments are available that can slow the rate at which your sight deteriorates and could help prevent serious loss of vision. Treatments for macular degeneration include:
Surgery to remove or destroy abnormal blood vessels could be an option for certain patients.
The key to successful treatment of macular degeneration is an early diagnosis, so book an appointment for an eye exam by calling ReVision Optix today, or use the online tool.