Frequently Asked Questions about Macular Degeneration
With advancing age, the risk of developing certain eye diseases increases. A good example is macular degeneration, a progressive disorder affecting the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision and fine detail.
Read on as Dr. Gregory Johnson of Intracoastal Eye answers the most frequently asked questions about macular degeneration.
What is macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness. It is characterized by damage to the macula, an area of the retina that controls straight-ahead vision.
What is the difference between “dry” and “wet” macular degeneration?
In the early “dry” form of macular degeneration, the macula thins and tiny clumps of protein called drusen develop. As the disease progresses, areas of the macula die and blank spots appear in central vision.
Dry AMD can progress to “wet” AMD, characterized by the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels that leak blood and fluid.
What causes macular degeneration?
It is not exactly clear what causes macular degeneration, but experts believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Smoking, eating a poor diet and being obese are thought to increase the chances of developing macular degeneration.
How does AMD affect vision?
AMD causes blurry, reduced or distorted central vision. It can affect the ability to recognize faces, drive and read. Colors may look less bright or intense than normal, and straight lines may appear wavy.
Generally peripheral vision is not affected with AMD.
Can AMD be prevented?
Research indicates that a healthy lifestyle may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration or slow down the progression of the disease. Healthy lifestyle habits include not smoking, exercising regularly and eating a diet full of foods with vitamins and antioxidants.
Is there a cure for macular degeneration?
Currently there is no cure for either form of macular degeneration, but there are ways to delay or avoid vision loss.
How is macular degeneration treated?
Evidence suggests that people with dry AMD who take specially formulated nutritional supplements may be able to slow the progression of the disease and delay loss of vision.
With wet AMD, special medications can be injected into the eyes to reduce the number of abnormal, leaking blood vessels. Laser therapy is sometimes recommended to seal leaking blood vessels.
What should I do if I experience symptoms of AMD?
If you notice any changes in your central vision, you should see an eye doctor to be screened for macular degeneration. If you are diagnosed with AMD, your doctor can talk to you about your medical and surgical treatment options.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson, please call (910) 777-8254 or send us an email today.