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What You Should Know About Macular Degeneration

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Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a common condition among older adults, affecting about 10 million people in the United States. If you are 50 or older, you should learn more about this eye condition because it’s the leading cause of blindness among men and women over 50.

There’s no cure for macular degeneration. Once your vision is impaired because of the disease, we can’t fixed or restore it. But at Clarity Vision Care, we can help you manage the disease and preserve your vision through early detection.

What is macular degeneration?

The macula is a small part in the center of the retina, which is in the back of your eye. The retina is responsible for your sharp, central vision. When the macula is damaged or weakened, your central vision and ability to see fine details becomes impaired. Reading, driving, and using a computer can become challenging.

Damage to your retina usually occurs slowly over time. In some cases, though, it can come on suddenly and affect your vision quickly. It can affect one or both eyes.

Most of the time, deterioration of your macula is gradual — a condition called dry macular degeneration, or non-neovascular. When vision impairment comes on suddenly and progresses quickly, it’s usually a condition called wet macular degeneration, or neovascular.

Macular degeneration symptoms and risk factors

In the early stages of macular degeneration, you usually have no symptoms. That’s why you need regular comprehensive dilated eye exams. The eye exams are the only way to detect the early stages of macular degeneration.

Although there are also no treatment options for early-stage macular degeneration, early detection helps us monitor the disease so that when your symptoms start, we can work together to manage it and preserve your vision.

In the intermediate and late stages of the disease, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Shadowy areas in your central vision in one or both eyes
  • Fuzzy or distorted vision
  • Straight lines that look bent
  • Difficulty reading and recognizing faces
  • Decreased color brightness

Factors that may increase your risk of developing macular degeneration include:

  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Your race (Caucasians are at higher risk)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Age

Macular degeneration treatment options

In the early stages, the only thing you can do is to watch and wait. In the intermediate stages of the disease, we can start treatments. There is evidence that a regimen of nutritional supplements, which include zinc oxide, vitamins C and E and others, can help slow the progression of the disease.

In the late stages, vision preservation is the focus. Here are a few of the options we use at Clarity Vision Care:

Medication injections

We can inject certain medications into your eyes to stop abnormal blood vessels from growing and leaking and help slow the progression of wet macular degeneration.

Photodynamic therapy

We use this laser procedure to treat wet macular degeneration by sealing off leaky blood with a combination of laser therapy and light-sensitive medicine. The laser activates the medicine in the eye to seal off leaky vessels while sparing healthy blood vessels.

Laser therapy

We use this more intense treatment in some instances to seal off leaky blood vessels in your macular by creating burns with a special laser. This treatment does not restore your lost vision but can help prevent further vision loss.

For more information on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of macular degeneration, call us at Clarity Vision Care in Richardson, Texas, or make an appointment online.