What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is often called ADM (age-related macular degeneration) and is the leading cause of vision loss in individuals over the age of 60. Aside from aging, other common risk factors include smoking, obesity and inactivity, high blood pressure and a family history of macular degeneration. Symptoms may include seeing wavy lines, hazy vision and blurriness.
In a healthy eye, the retina processes images for sight, almost like the film of a camera. At the center of your retina is an area called the macula, which controls your color vision and fine, detailed central vision. With macular degeneration, your color vision may become dim. Everyday tasks like reading, driving and recognizing faces become increasingly difficult as time goes on. It’s as if someone has dimmed the lights on your central vision, even though your peripheral vision is not affected.
Stages of Macular Degeneration
There are two stages to macular degeneration, and your board-certified ophthalmologist at Yaldo Eye Center can diagnose which stage your eyes are in.
- Stage 1: Dry (atrophic) macular degeneration is caused by the thinning or breaking down of the macula tissue. Over 75% of patients diagnosed have dry macular degeneration.
- Stage 2: Wet (exudative) macular degeneration occurs when the small blood vessels nourishing the retina break, consequently leaking fluid and blood under the retina. Scar tissue then forms, resulting in new, fragile blood vessels that can continue to break and leak, damaging the retina.
Macular Degeneration Testing and Treatment
A complete medical eye examination by an ophthalmologist at Yaldo Eye Center can determine if you have macular degeneration. Testing may include a color vision test, Amsler grid test and/or a fluorescein angiogram. The Amsler grid test is a repeating series of horizontal and vertical lines where one sees if any lines appear to be wavy, broken, crooked or missing. A fluroescein angiogram determines the exact condition of the macula to see if new blood vessels are forming under the retina and where they are located.
If you are diagnosed with macular degeneration, your ophthalmologist at Yaldo Eye Center can explain all the treatment options available to preserve your sight and prevent any additional vision loss. To date, there is no FDA-approved treatment for dry macular degeneration. Research and studies have indicated that high doses of antioxidants and zinc supplements may slow the progression of dry macular degeneration. At Yaldo Eye Center, we offer MacularShield™ a special nutritional supplement designed specifically for macular degeneration. Click here to request more information about MacularShield.
Many different low vision aids including magnifying glasses and bright reading lights are also available. For several decades, the only treatment option for wet macular degeneration had been laser therapy when the patient receives an early diagnosis. Today, the FDA has approved a new injectable drug therapy using anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs including Lucentis and Macugen, which both show promising results. In controlled clinical studies, Lucentis is the only drug that has improved vision and reversed macular degeneration.
The eye surgeons at Yaldo Eye Center take an individualized approach to treating macular degeneration and will discuss treatment plans with you at length.