Macular degeneration is a frightening diagnosis, but with treatment, you can often stop its progression and preserve your vision. Call us to make an appointment to see one of our providers for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Macular degeneration is a deterioration of your macula, situated in the middle of your retina, the layer of light-sensing tissue at the back of your eye. Your macula is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see the world in clear detail. Your macula allows you to recognize people’s faces and read their facial expressions.
Macular degeneration rarely results in complete blindness, but it can cause you to lose most or all of your central vision, leaving only your peripheral (side) vision, which is far less clear. This makes things like driving, reading, watching TV, and using a computer difficult or impossible.
The telltale symptom of macular degeneration is blind spots. These are dark, blurry areas that look like someone took an eraser to your vision. Your vision can also become less sharp, while colors look less bright, intense, and vivid.
The two forms of macular degeneration are dry and wet:
Dry macular degeneration is by far the more common form of the disease, making up 85-90% of all cases. It results from fatty deposits, called drusen, that form under the retina.
The dry form is less likely to cause permanent severe vision loss than the wet form. However, it can still cause blurry vision, blind spots, and occasionally loss of central vision.
In some cases, the dry form turns into wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration accounts for only 10-15% of macular degeneration cases, but it’s far more likely to cause severe, irreversible vision loss. Also, the symptoms of the wet form appear much more quickly than the dry form.
Wet macular degeneration results from abnormal blood vessels that leak blood. If left untreated, the vessels form scars, eventually causing a permanent loss of central vision.
Treatment of macular degeneration depends on the form you have and how advanced it is.
If you have dry macular degeneration, your doctor helps you adjust to changes in your vision and make lifestyle changes to preserve your eye health. A diet rich in antioxidants or a regimen of high-dose supplements can help slow vision loss. Vision aids like magnifiers, reading aids, and brighter lighting can help you see better.
Wet macular degeneration requires urgent treatment that targets abnormal blood vessel growth. Your doctor will most likely administer injectable medication and then use laser therapy. These treatments can help preserve your vision.
For expert help managing macular degeneration, call Ramirez & Poulos, MD, PA.