What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration refers to a disease that leads to a loss of central vision, which typically happens over a number of years. This eye disease is the leading cause of blindness or vision loss in people over the age of 50. Detecting macular degeneration as early as possible helps slow its progression. Dry macular degeneration, a common form of macular degeneration, has no cure, but managing the symptoms is possible. Wet macular degeneration, which is rare, is typically managed with laser treatment.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of macular degeneration, though it is thought to be associated with certain risk factors, including smoking and family history. Macular degeneration develops slowly as eye tissue wears down or becomes thinner, which usually happens as part of the aging process. The tissue that wears down is in the macula, an area of the eye that allows for clear vision. Patients with this eye disease typically experience a loss of central vision rather than peripheral vision.
What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration doesn’t always produce noticeable symptoms at first. Symptoms appear as the disease advances and become worse gradually. Symptoms of macular degeneration include problems with central vision, vision problems in low or dim light, difficulty recognizing faces, and vision distortions. Patients may also have trouble seeing colors.
Am I at Risk for Macular Degeneration?
Patients with certain risk factors for macular degeneration might have a higher risk of getting the disease. These risk factors include being over the age of 65, having a family history of the disease, cardiovascular disease, smoking, and obesity.
How is Macular Degeneration Treated?
Dr. Hart-Moreland conducts in-house testing for macular degeneration and provides a diagnosis based on test results. She helps patients manage the disease to lower the risk of vision loss. Macular degeneration maintenance focuses on slowing the progression of the disease. Early treatment for dry macular degeneration involves eating a nutritious diet, taking vitamin C, taking supplements with other nutrients that promote healthy eyes, and quitting smoking. Patients with advanced vision loss can go through low vision rehabilitation to adapt to losing central vision.