Vision is arguably one of our most important senses, and it’s something that we rely on every day. When our vision is clear, we take basic tasks like driving and reading for granted. But when our vision quality starts to suffer, as it can with macular degeneration, we suddenly realize how important our vision is.
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects as many as 11 million Americans. It’s also the leading cause of vision loss among seniors. Symptoms commonly affect patients aged 55 and above, which is why the disease is also known as “Age-related Macular Degeneration” (AMD).
AMD occurs when the central part of your eye’s retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina lies in the back of your eye and catches the light you see before sending the information through the optic nerve to your brain.
Because the macula is responsible for the center of your vision, AMD can make seeing objects straight ahead difficult. The condition doesn’t result in total blindness, but it will interfere with everyday tasks such as reading and driving.
Research indicates macular degeneration may be related to a combination of environmental factors and heredity, including diet and smoking. The eye disease develops as the eye ages.
The two main categories of the disease are dry and wet macular degeneration. While both involve damage to the macula, they differ in causes and consequences.
Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common form. It makes up 85% of AMD cases. As eye tissue deteriorates with age, the debris collects behind your macula forming clumps of yellow protein known as drusen. This buildup dries out and thins your macula, resulting in reduced central vision.
Wet Macular Degeneration is more rare and more serious. The body may naturally attempt to supply more nutrients to the eye by growing additional blood vessels, but when these vessels seep underneath the macula and leak fluid, they cause scars and consequently severe vision loss.
Most people with Macular Degeneration won’t show physical symptoms until the intermediate stages of the disease, but a qualified eye doctor like Dr. Barry Leonard can detect AMD in its early stages. With early detection, you can get early treatment. That is why it is so necessary to have regular eye exams, especially as you age.
And you should see your eye doctor to for potential AMD diagnosis if you experience any of these potential Macular Degeneration symptoms.
See an eye doctor if you find that your vision is affecting your daily life.
If you have Dry Macular Degeneration, then eating a healthy diet — the same advice listed above for preventing AMD — is your best defense against your AMD getting worse. We also treat Wet Macular Degeneration with anti-growth factors that we inject into the eye. While that may sound scary, the procedure is very comfortable and relatively pain-free.
Whether you’re at risk due to your age, lifestyle, or family history, don’t wait until you experience symptoms to see an eye doctor for your regular eye exam.
Dr. Barry Leonard and Associates can help you diagnose and stay on top of macular degeneration symptoms. We have decades of experience helping individuals find suitable treatments for a variety of eye diseases.