Are you having trouble seeing colors, faces, or fine details? Have you noticed a change in your central line of vision? If so, you should see one of our eye doctors right away for an eye exam, as these are signs of macular degeneration. This condition is common among those over the age of 50, but early detection can help to slow its progression.
Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that is common among people over the age of 50. It causes reduced or blurred central vision due to thinning of the macula. The macula is the part of the retina that is important for clear vision in your direct sight line. This condition may first develop in one or both of the eyes, and then affect both eyes over time. Your vision may worsen and affect your ability to perform everyday tasks such as driving, reading, and recognizing people from a distance.
Common symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- Decreased central vision in one or both eyes.
- Visual distortions.
- Difficulty adapting to low levels of light.
- Decreased brightness or intensity of colors.
- A blurry or blind spot in your field of vision.
There are two main types of age-related macula degeneration, including dry form and wet form. The differences between these two types are as follows:
Dry form: Patients with this type may have yellow deposits in their macula known as drusen. These spots may get bigger over time and may distort your vision, especially when reading. As the condition progresses, the light-sensitive cells in the macula eventually die. This may lead to blind spots in your vision.
Wet form: All people have blood vessels that grow underneath the macula. However, people with this condition have blood vessels that will leak blood into the retina, causing vision distortions. Blind spots and loss of central vision may also occur.
Experts are currently unaware of the exact cause of macular degeneration. However, it may be caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. This condition develops as the eye ages and affects the macula or the area of the retina that is responsible for clear vision. Over time, the tissue of the macula may thin and lose cells.
Certain people may be at a higher risk for macular degeneration, including people over the age of 60, those with a family history of macular degeneration, those who smoke, or if you have cardiovascular disease.
There are a number of tests that must be performed to properly diagnose this condition. These tests may include an examination of the back of your eye, tests for defects in your central vision, fluorescein angiography, indocyanine green angiography, or optical coherence tomography. While there is currently not a cure for macular degeneration, there are a number of clinical trials in process, and there are steps that can be taken to slow the progression of the condition.
Low vision rehabilitation: Macular degeneration that is age-related does not affect your peripheral vision, and usually does not result in complete blindness. However, it can reduce your central line of vision, which is important for driving a car, reading, and recognizing faces. Working with a low vision rehabilitation specialist, occupational therapist, or eye doctor trained in low vision rehabilitation may be a great option for adapting to your changing vision.
Surgery: For certain patients with advanced dry macular degeneration in both of their eyes, surgery to implant a telescopic lens into one eye may be an option. The lens, which resembles a plastic tube, contains lenses that magnify your vision to improve both close-up and distance vision.
Lifestyle changes: Different lifestyle changes may help to slow vision loss, including stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, managing other medical conditions, exercising regularly, and going to your routine eye exams. Taking certain supplements may also be beneficial, which you can ask your eye doctor about.
If you are noticing changes in your central vision or if your ability to see fine detail or certain colors becomes impaired, you should visit our office for an eye exam. Early detection of macular degeneration may delay vision loss, so it is important to let your eye doctor know if you are experiencing any changes in vision.
To learn more about macular degeneration, or to schedule an appointment with one of our eye care specialists, contact our office today! We will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.