What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that occurs when the retina’s central portion known as the macula starts showing signs of wear. The light-sensing nerve tissue in the back of your eye weakens or wears down, causing you to have vision problems. While macular degeneration generally happens as you get older, some factors can cause the condition in younger and middle-aged individuals.
While macular degeneration is not curable it can be controlled. Early detection is important to control loss of vision. An eye doctor in Florida can provide early detection and diagnosis and refer you to a specialist that can provide appropriate treatment for the condition.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Like many eye diseases, macular degeneration symptoms develop slowly, thus making early detection difficult. Wearing a visual aid can make it difficult to identify the problem since glasses or contacts improve your vision. However, symptoms will worsen and become more noticeable over time. Some of the most common macular degeneration symptoms include:
- Chronic blurry vision
- Dark, blurry areas in the center of your vision
- Poor color perception
- Inability to make out details
- Difficulty driving or reading
- Objects that “jump” when you try to see them
- Difficulty seeing or reading in normal light
Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration
Not all macular degeneration is the same or affects people the same way. There are two main types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels underneath the macula leak blood and fluid into the retina. The additional fluid distorts your vision. You may experience blind spots or loss of central vision. Scarring may occur and cause permanent vision loss.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Yellow deposits called drusen form in the macula, causing changes in your vision. As the drusen accumulates, your vision dims or becomes distorted. You may have trouble reading or driving at night. If you allow the condition to worsen, you may lose central vision altogether.
Causes of Macular Degeneration
There are several possible causes of macular degeneration:
- Age (60+ years)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High saturated fat intake
- Light skin
- Higher rate in females
- Eye color
Diagnosis and Treatment
Eye doctors can often identify and diagnose macular degeneration during a routine eye exam. The most visible sign of the condition is the drusen buildup. You may also undergo an Amsler grid test to determine if you see straight or wavy lines. Your doctor may also administer an angiography (OCT) by injecting dye into your veins and monitor the dye to see if it leaks out of the blood vessels in your eye.
Fortunately, macular degeneration is treatable. There are several possible treatments including:
- Diet and supplements
- Low-vision aids
- Laser treatment
Speak with your eye doctor to explore your options and determine which type of treatment is best for you.