There are 2 main types of macular degeneration: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. Unfortunately, by the time noticeable symptoms appear, vision loss has usually occurred.
The good news is that when AMD is diagnosed and treated early, it’s often possible to delay and even prevent further vision loss.
Having regular comprehensive eye exams is the best way to preserve your vision. To schedule your eye exam, contact Uptown Eye Care in Monticello today.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
Macular degeneration occurs when the macula — the part of the eye that enables us to perform daily tasks such as driving, reading, recognizing faces, and seeing fine details with our central vision— breaks down.
This results in the formation of shadowy and dark areas in the field of vision, hindering the ability to do simple tasks. In the most severe cases, AMD can result in blindness.
There are two main forms of macular degeneration:
- Dry macular degeneration, also known as non-neovascular, is the most common and slower form of the disease. Over the years, central vision deteriorates due to the thinning of the macula.
- Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular, occurs when new blood vessels grow under the macula, and leak blood and fluid, resulting in severe and rapid vision loss.
Early detection can slow the progression of AMD, reducing the chances of vision loss and blindness. This is why getting regular eye exams (especially as you age) to check for the early signs of AMD is so important.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing macular degeneration, including age, genetics, and certain health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
If you have a family history of macular degeneration or any of these risk factors, it's important to have regular eye exams to check for early signs of the condition.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Common symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Difficulty reading or performing tasks that require fine visual detail
- Difficulty distinguishing colors
- An empty or dark area appears in the center of your vision
- Straight lines appearing wavy or distorted
- A decrease in the overall sharpness or clarity of your vision
- A need for brighter light to see comfortably
How to Prevent Macular Degeneration
You can take precautions to reduce your chances of macular degeneration, even if you may be susceptible to it because of genetics or other risk factors. These are:
- Getting regular eye exams
- Knowing your family history and telling your eye doctor about it
- Refraining from or quitting smoking
- Lowering cholesterol
- Living a healthy lifestyle by eating foods like leafy greens that are rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and beta-carotene.
How Macular Degeneration is Detected
- Comprehensive eye exam - When your eye doctor looks for macular degeneration, they’ll use an ophthalmoscope (a device that allows them to see the back of the eyeball). They’ll also perform a visual acuity test using numbers and letters.
- Imaging tests - These tests include optical coherence tomography (OCT) or fundus photography, which creates detailed images of the retina and the macula.
- Dilated eye exam -The eye doctor uses eye drops to dilate the pupils and examines the retina and macula using a special magnifying lens.
- Self-examination methods - Your eye doctor may encourage you to check for signs of macular degeneration from the comfort of your home. An example is the Amsler grid, which is a pattern of straight lines that can be used to check for distortion or blurriness in the central vision. This test is done by covering one eye and looking at the grid with the other eye. If you see any wavy lines or distortions, you should report them to your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Find an Eye Doctor for Macular Degeneration in Monticello
If macular degeneration is detected early, there are treatment options to prevent further vision loss and preserve as much vision as possible.
Set up an eye exam with Uptown Eye Care to get screened and treated for macular degeneration.