What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, or MD, is an eye condition that affects the center of your retina called the macula. There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry macular degeneration.

Dry macular degeneration causes the macula to deteriorate and get thinner. When this happens, your central vision gets blurred or reduced.

In wet macular degeneration, blood vessels grow under your macula and leak. This leaking causes distorted and spotty vision.

Dry macular degeneration is more common and is often less severe. It progresses gradually over time and can develop into wet macular degeneration. If this happens, it can cause sudden symptoms and more severe vision loss.

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What Causes Macular Degeneration?

The specific cause of macular degeneration is unknown, but age is likely a factor. It is common to see macular degeneration referred to as age-related macular degeneration, ARMD, or AMD.

That’s because the older you get, the thinner your retina is likely to become. Primarily people fifty-five and older develop macular degeneration.

Certain medications can contribute to it, as well as your diet, weight, and smoking. On top of that, hereditary factors likely play a role in its development as well.

What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

The symptoms of macular degeneration include the following and can occur in one or both eyes:

  • Difficulty recognizing faces 
  • Visual distortions
  • Reduced central vision
  • Blurriness when reading
  • Decreased brightness of colors 

You may also have trouble seeing in dimly-lit conditions and might need brighter light to read by. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your eye doctor right away. 

How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Your eye doctor will check your eyes for macular degeneration with a routine eye exam. They’ll ask you questions about your medical history and give you a thorough eye exam.

They may run a test like a fluorescein angiography. During this test, a dye gets injected into your arm, which travels to your eyes. The dye then illuminates the blood vessels in your eyes, making them easier to photograph.

Is There a Cure For Macular degeneration?

Unfortunately, you cannot cure or reverse macular degeneration. Your only option is to use medical treatment to slow and manage its progression.

Treatment is critical to prevent dry macular degeneration from progressing into wet MD. Early diagnosis is essential to avoid this progression.

How is Macular Degeneration Treated?

There are several medications available to treat macular degeneration. These include Avastin, Lucentis, Eylea, and others. They get injected into your eye every four to six weeks and could help you recover some of the vision you have lost. 

In some cases, photodynamic therapy is a treatment option for macular degeneration. It uses a drug injected into your arm that travels to your eye to remove affected tissue.

Once the drug reaches your eye, your eye doctor activates the medicine with a light. The activated medicine kills the tissue cells it is in contact with.

Other situations might call for photocoagulation therapy. This laser treatment seals blood vessels in your eye. You can also see an occupational therapist who can help you adjust to your lower level of vision. 

How Can You Prevent Macular Degeneration?

Taking simple steps to live a healthy lifestyle may help prevent macular degeneration. Regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are easy ways to be healthier.

For eye health, be sure your diet includes fruits, vegetables, and sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fish and nuts. If you have other medical conditions, keeping them under control will also help.

If you experience rapid changes in your vision or your ability to see colors and details decreases, see your doctor right away.

Are you experiencing the symptoms of macular degeneration? Schedule an appointment at Cobb Eye Center in Marietta, GA, to get a comprehensive eye exam!

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