What Is Macular Degeneration?
More formally known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), this condition specifically affects the macula, which is at the center of the retina. This part of your retina holds detecting cells that add fine detail and color to your vision. In people aged 60 and older, those cells can deteriorate from changes in the eye associated with macular degeneration so that your central vision becomes blurry and distorted. This condition may begin in one eye, but usually progresses to affect both eyes. While AMD has a definite impact on your vision quality, it doesn’t cause complete blindness.
Common Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
In addition to increasingly poor quality of central vision, patients with AMD most commonly experience:
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- A specific blurry or blind spot when looking straight ahead
- Trouble transitioning from well-lit areas to dimly-lit areas
- Regularly seeking more light when reading or working up close
- Distortions such as straight lines appearing bent or round items looking oval shaped
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: dry and wet.
This is the most common type, affecting about 90% of patients with AMD. Dry AMD is simply a thinning of the macula over time so that your direct line of sight becomes impaired and daily activities such as driving or reading become difficult. Dry AMD does not affect your peripheral vision, which can be disorienting to patients.
The more serious type of macular degeneration, wet AMD, is characterized by the growth of small blood vessels under the macula. These new vessels can leak fluid, which is where this type of AMD gets its name. These blood vessels and leakage can cause sudden vision loss — vision loss that can sometimes be reversed with immediate medical intervention. Patients with dry AMD can develop wet AMD.
In its earliest stages, AMD’s symptoms can be almost imperceptible, so it’s imperative that patients over age 50 have dilation as part of their annual eye exams. This allows your doctor to identify AMD in its earliest stages, increasing treatment options and effectiveness.
Like all conditions, AMD’s treatment is most effective when it’s tailored to the specific patient. If you suspect you may have macular degeneration, contact Vance Thompson Vision to begin care as soon as possible.
Currently, there’s no cure for dry or wet AMD; however, researchers achieve breakthroughs every day. We’re hopeful a cure is not only possible, but coming soon. In the meantime, there are ways for the team at Vance Thompson Vision to help support patients affected by AMD.
Treatments for AMD can include a combination of dietary supplements, injections, and/or laser procedures. While these cannot restore vision that’s already lost, they can help maintain your current level of vision.
Our retina specialist, Dr. Jed Assam, and his team carefully evaluate treatments for their safety and efficacy and are dedicated to staying current on the latest technology.