Macular degeneration is an age-related eye condition that impacts your ability to see fine detail or experience clear vision looking straight ahead. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss in Americans over the age of 50. We offer advanced macular degeneration treatment options, like laser surgery, which can safely and effectively prevent vision loss. Your doctor can also recommend conservative lifestyle changes that may be able to slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Understanding Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration damages the macula, a small spot in the center of the retina. The retina is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that helps convert light into electrical impulses that the brain perceives as images. When the macula becomes damaged, it can cause your central field of vision to become blurry, distorted, or dark.
Macular degeneration is categorized as either wet or dry. In the dry form of the condition, the macular tissue deteriorates, and the formation of abnormally large drusen, a type of fatty lipid that forms yellow deposits, may occur. Wet macular degeneration is less common, and it occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood into the macula. Dry macular degeneration tends to progressively affect vision over a number of years, while the wet form can result in sudden and substantial vision loss.
In its early stages, macular degeneration should be closely monitored during regular exams. Patients can also conduct home monitoring using an Amsler Grid, a type of chart that can help the patient identify changes in central vision. Research has also shown a diet high in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids, can slow the progression of the disease. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that have been found to be especially beneficial to macular degeneration patients. Supplements can also help you incorporate a greater amount of antioxidants into your diet.
As macular degeneration advances, treatment primarily aims to preserve vision, since vision lost because of macular degeneration cannot be fully restored. Laser treatment may be recommended to treat the wet form of macular degeneration.
During laser treatment, a precise high-energy laser can be used to seal and shrink leaking blood vessels. Injectable medications administered to the eye can also slow the development of new blood vessels. Both types of therapy may need to be repeated during subsequent sessions to achieve the best results.
Monitoring Your Condition
Some patients who suffer with dry macular degeneration will develop the wet form. In addition to undergoing regular exams, you should closely monitor your vision daily and immediately notify your doctor of any changes. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits, like quitting tobacco use and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol, can also help preserve your vision.