Macular degeneration is the single leading cause of vision loss and affects upwards of 10 million Americans. Although there is currently no cure, understanding how this condition impacts your vision and what treatment options are available to you can make it easier to live with macular degeneration and to slow vision loss. Dr. Hieu Huynh treats many people from in and around Richardson, Texas who are suffering from macular degeneration.
Your retina is the rear layer of the inside of your eye and collects the images that are sent to your optic nerve and then to your brain.
The central portion of your retina is called the “macula,” which works to focus your central vision. The macula allows you to read, recognize loved ones, drive a car, and examine the fine details in various objects.
Macular degeneration occurs when the macula deteriorates. As the deterioration progresses, it impacts your central vision. Eventually, everything that you see will be through your peripheral vision, and the center of your field of sight will be darkened.
Researchers are not yet aware of the exact cause of macular degeneration, but it is clear that age is the number one risk factor. Macular degeneration most commonly affects people over the age of 55, although it sometimes impacts younger people.
Genetics plays a role, and people with a family history of the disease are more likely to develop it themselves. Smoking is known to increase the risk of macular degeneration. Race also factors in, as Caucasian people are far more likely to suffer from macular degeneration than those of Hispanic or African American descent.
There are currently no treatments for macular degeneration in its early phases. Dr. Huynh and other therapeutic optometrists recommend that people who are suffering from the early stages of macular degeneration come in for annual eye exams to measure the progression of the disease.
In the intermediate stages, there’s evidence to support the idea that certain nutritional supplements may be able to slow the progression of the disease. However, treatment options for late-stage macular degeneration focus on addressing further vision loss but don’t offer a cure.
Certain drugs can be injected into the eyes to stop abnormal blood vessels from growing. A laser treatment known as “photodynamic therapy” can also provide positive results, and more intense laser surgery can prevent severe vision loss later in life.
Dr. Huynh works to craft a customized treatment plan for everyone in his practice who suffers from macular degeneration. If you are concerned that you may have an elevated risk for this condition, it is important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at your earliest convenience.