What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. It is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula (which gives us the ability to see “20/20” and provides the best color vision). When the macula does not function properly, the central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas or distortion.
What are the Causes?
Although the specific cause is unknown, macular degeneration seems to be part of aging. While age is the most significant risk factor for developing this condition, heredity, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and smoking have also been identified as risk factors. Macular degeneration accounts for 90 percent of new legal blindness in the US.
What are the Symptoms?
The visual symptoms involve loss of central vision. While peripheral vision is unaffected, one loses the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces, and generally looking at detail.
Imagine being able to see a clock on the wall but unable to make out the time or unable to read because you could not see parts of words on the page.
What is the Difference Between Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration?
The two most common types of macular degeneration are “dry” (atrophic) and “wet” (exudative).
Nine out of 10 people have the dry form, which results in the thinning of the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision. Dry degeneration takes many years to develop and vision loss is usually gradual.
The wet form occurs much less frequently (one out of 10 people) but is more serious. Abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina at the back of the eye and these blood vessels leak fluid or blood and blur central vision. Vision loss is rapid and severe.
How is Macular Degeneration Treated?
Currently, there is no treatment for dry cases but there are intervention measures, such as supplements, to delay and possibly prevent intermediate degeneration from progressing to the advanced stage in which vision loss occurs. However, it is important to schedule regular follow-ups to monitor the eyes for the conversion of dry to wet.
Treatment for wet degeneration involves the administration of prescription medication into the eye. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents suppress the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina and help restore vision. It is important that bleeding from wet degeneration is detected early because it may involve scarring that is irreversible Patients may require repeat injections to manage their macular degeneration.
Request an Appointment in Eugene, Oregon
If you are experiencing issues with your vision, schedule an appointment at Foley Vision Center. Our comprehensive eye exams help detect problems early and can help you stay on top your health. Call (541) 342-4243 or request an appointment via the form below. When you submit a form, a member of our team will be in touch to confirm your appointment.