The macula is the focal point of the retina and is responsible for central vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is common in older adults, causes the macula to deteriorate.
By the time you notice symptoms from macular degeneration, vision loss will have usually occurred.
To rule out or confirm macular degeneration, schedule an eye exam with Vision Source Specialists in Vision Source Specialists today.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
The risk of developing macular degeneration increases as you age. It’s a leading cause of vision loss in people 55 and older.
The macula allows us to drive, read, recognize faces, and see fine details. When you have macular degeneration, your ability to do these activities can be greatly reduced as central vision fades.
There are 2 main types of macular degeneration:
- Dry macular degeneration (non-neovascular) - This type is most common and is characterized by a gradual loss of central vision. Your eye doctor will detect drusen (tiny yellow or white deposits) under the retina.
- Wet macular degeneration (neovascular) - This less common form of the disease causes frail new blood vessels to grow under the retina and leak blood and fluid, resulting in rapid and often severe vision loss.
The earlier AMD is diagnosed, the easier it is to slow down its progression. This is why it’s essential to schedule regular eye exams (particularly as you age) to identify any early warning signs of AMD.
Which Factors Make You Vulnerable to Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
Certain risk factors make an individual more likely to get macular degeneration, such as being 50+, inheriting certain genes, and having health conditions such as hypertension or diabetes.
If macular degeneration runs in your family, or if you have any of these risk factors, you should make it a priority to get regular eye exams to spot any early signs of AMD and other sight-threatening eye conditions.
Common Signs of Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- Distorted or blurry vision
- Struggling with tasks that require fine visual details
- Finding it difficult to tell colors apart
- A dark or empty spot in the middle of your field of vision
- Straight lines appearing curved, wavy, or misshapen
- A decrease in the clarity and sharpness of vision
- Needing more lighting to see clearly
How to Prevent Macular Degeneration
Even if you’re genetically predisposed to macular degeneration, you can still reduce your risk by taking these precautions:
- Schedule regular eye exams
- Share your family history with your eye doctor
- Avoid smoking or quit if you currently smoke
- Keep cholesterol levels in check
- Eat healthy foods that are rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and beta-carotene, such as leafy greens.
Diagnostic Methods for Macular Degeneration
There are many methods for diagnosing macular degeneration. These methods include:
- Comprehensive eye exam- Your optometrist will use an ophthalmoscope to examine the back of the eye to detect macular degeneration. A visual acuity test that uses symbols and numbers to test vision is also incorporated.
- Imaging tests - These types of tests use optical coherence tomography (OCT) or fundus photography to create detailed images of the retina, including the macula.
- Dilated eye exam - Eye drops are used to dilate pupils, allowing the optometrist to easily examine the retina and macula using a special magnifying lens.
- Self-examination methods - The Amsler grid, a collection of straight lines created to reveal vision distortions, can be used to detect macular generation at home. All you have to do is simply cover one eye and focus on the grid with the other. If the lines become wavy or you spot any abnormalities, then you should contact an eye care professional. (Please note that self-examination isn’t a substitute for a visit to your eye doctor)
Find A Macular Degeneration Optometrist in
As mentioned above, it's critical to visit your optometrist for regular eye exams to effectively treat macular degeneration and preserve vision.
At Vision Source Specialists, we co-manage eye diseases alongside a trusted eye surgeon. Safeguard your eye health by booking an appointment with Vision Source Specialists today.
Our practice serves patients from Rapid City, Philip, Spearfish, and Gillette, South Dakota and surrounding communities.