What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is an age-related condition that leads to vision loss as a result of deterioration in the retina (macula). Along with glaucoma, AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in Americans aged 65 and older and affects more than 10 million people in the US. Although there is no cure, seeing an ophthalmologist regularly can help you catch the condition and thus take steps to treat it. Continue reading below to learn about macular degeneration and how you can look out for symptoms.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Dry Macular Degeneration
The retina controls central vision and enables you to see details clearly. Dry macular degeneration is the more common form of AMD and causes the macular tissue to thin, resulting in blurred vision. This circumstance typically affects both eyes, and it occurs gradually as part of the normal aging process.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Although not as common as dry AMD, wet macular degeneration is more damaging and can lead to more serious vision loss. This condition occurs when new abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood into the macula, which can cause permanent damage and loss of central vision. Additionally, macular degeneration can progress faster.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
The exact cause of macular degeneration is still unknown, but aging, genetics, smoking, and cardiovascular disease are contributing factors to the condition. The most common symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- Difficulty reading in low-lighted areas
- Increased blurriness of words
- Formation of a blind spot in the center of your vision
- Decreased brightness of colors
Diagnosis and Treatment
There is no cure for macular degeneration; however, if an ophthalmologist diagnoses you early, there are treatments available. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in eye and vision care and is trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat diseases, prescribe medications, and perform surgery. Ophthalmologists can recommend supplements and treatments to slow the progression of macular degeneration, such as taking certain vitamin supplements or medications that reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Laser therapy and photodynamic therapy may also be used to treat this condition.
The doctors at Southern Eye Group have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.