Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in people over the age of 60. The condition causes the central portion of the retina, known as the macula, to deteriorate. There are two types of macular degeneration. The dry form of AMD occurs when yellow deposits called drusen buildup on the macula. AMD wet form occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula. Because this condition can result in permanent vision loss, our optometrists at Epic Vision Eye Centers in Kansas and Missouri encourages annual eye visits.
The most common risk factor for this condition is age. As you get older, your chance of developing AMD increases. Genetics also have a lot to do with you developing the disease. If someone in your family has this condition, there is a greater chance that you will as well. A few other risk factors include having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
In the early stages, macular degeneration shows no symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
- Straight lines appearing bent
- Reduced vision when you look straight ahead
- Blurriness when reading
- Colors appear faded
- Having trouble adjusting your eyes in a dimly lit room
- Needing brighter lights to read
- Difficulty recognizing faces
In some cases, macular degeneration can affect both eyes. It is not uncommon for the symptoms to be worse in one eye than the other.
Diagnosing Macular Degeneration
This condition can be detected during an eye exam. There are a few tests that your eye doctor can perform, including:
- Dilated Exam: When your eyes are dilated, your eye doctor will be able to get a good look at your macular to check for the presence of drusen or abnormal blood vessels.
- Amsler Grid Test: This is used to determine if your vision is distorted.
Treating Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is no cure for AMD. Your eye doctor may suggest vitamin supplements or anti-angiogenic drugs to slow the progression of the disease. Laser surgery can help by stopping the abnormal blood vessels from forming. Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and quitting smoking, can also help.
Because macular degeneration shows no early symptoms, annual eye exams are very important. Our doctors of optometry at Epic Vision Eye Center in Kansas and Missouri may dilate your eyes to check for the signs of macular degeneration and several other serious conditions of the eye. To schedule an appointment, give us a call today.