FEBRUARY IS AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION MONTH
Dr. Jim Martin 02/04/2014
Who is at risk for macular degeneration?
As it often develops as a person gets older, it is commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration or AMD. People who smoke are twice or three times as likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers. Individuals with high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and/or a family history of the disease are also more susceptible.
How does macular degeneration affect vision?
Macular degeneration can significantly impair vision, although it is rare that it blinds people completely. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Approximately 10 percent of individuals with macular degeneration have the wet form.
Wet macular degeneration moves considerably more quickly and takes place when abnormal blood vessels develop under the macula. These weak vessels drip plasma and blood, bringing about dark spots in the field of vision.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
Early macular degeneration does not have any symptoms. Many people do not recognize it until it becomes more advanced and/or affects their vision. The most common initial sign is a blurry, dim spot in the middle of the field of vision.
This spot may grow darker or bigger over time. Changed or diminished color perception is another common symptom. People who experience either of these symptoms should schedule an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible.
Can macular degeneration be treated?
Currently there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, it can be managed through the following treatment options:
- Vitamins. For certain individuals who have intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration, vitamins C, E, copper, lutein, and zinc may reduce the risk of vision loss.
- Medications. Anti-angiogenesis medications, such as Eylea, Avastin and others prevent the onset of new abnormal blood vessels and leakage from abnormal eye blood vessels already present that bring about the wet form of the condition.
- Laser therapy. On some occasions, high-energy laser light can be used to wipe out actively growing atypical blood vessels. A doctor may also opt to use photodynamic laser therapy, which is a multiple step process that destroys the abnormal blood vessels.
- Vision aids. People who have suffered vision loss due to macular degeneration may benefit from devices with special electronic systems or lenses that create enlarged images of nearby items.
As early detection is key to successful macular degeneration treatment, it is best practice to see an eye care professional as soon as you suspect that you have the condition.
If you or someone that you know suffers from macular degeneration, consult with the Amarillo eye care specialists at Broome Optical. We offer regular eye exams, diagnosis and treatment for a wide variety of eye conditions, and an extensive selection of eyewear including glasses, contact lenses, and prescription sunglasses. To learn more or to set up an appointment, call 806-355-5633.