Macular Degeneration Management & Treatment With Our Casper & Douglas Optometrists
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the central portion of your retina called the macula. Important for controlling visual acuity, the macular also supports your ability to recognize familiar faces, work on the computer, drive a car and perform other tasks requiring the ability to see details. As the primary reason behind vision loss in people over 60, macular degeneration in its early stages can only be detected by your optometrist in Casper while examining your eyes with special optical instruments.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
Composed of millions of photoreceptive cells designed to provide clear, central vision, the macula is a highly sensitive portion of the retina. It assists the retina in transmitting electrical signals to the optic nerve, which then relays these signals to the occipital lobe where they are visually interpreted. Thinning macula cells and tissues start losing their ability to receive incoming light as we age, especially when we reach our 60s. Sometimes, people experience quicker and more intense deterioration of their macular cells, resulting in a diagnosis of macular degeneration.
Although most cases of macular degeneration are attributed to aging, research is discovering that there could be a genetic component to AMD, meaning if your parents or grandparents are diagnosed with AMD, you may be at risk for macular degeneration. Other things that may increase your risk for AMD include:
- High blood pressure
- Having blue or green eyes
- Obesity/sedentary lifestyle
- Taking anti-psychotic medications such as Mellaril or Stelazine
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
AMD is an asymptomatic, painless eye disease causing slow loss of vision. Progression of macular degeneration is so gradual that many people aren't aware they are experiencing distortion or fuzziness of their central vision. During middle to late stage AMD, you may have blind spots interfering with your vision. One thing to remember about macular degeneration symptoms is that vision impairment only affects your central visual field, not the periphery. Loss of peripheral vision is associated with glaucoma.
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
No treatment protocols exist to reverse AMD but there are treatments that can delay progression of AMD. In some cases, AMD treatments may help improve vision. Currently, a few medications for AMD are going through FDA-supported clinical trials.
Ongoing research studies have found that antioxidant vitamins and nutritional supplements containing zeaxanthin and lutein may delay progression of AMD. Your optometrist in Douglas will also recommend practicing healthier lifestyle choices and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV radiation.
Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration is called "dry" macular degeneration because it does not involve growth of new blood vessels. The less common form of macular degeneration--neovascular or "wet" degeneration--is a serious eye emergency involving rapid growth of weakened blood vessels in the eye that burst almost as soon as they are formed. Symptoms of wet macular degeneration often happen abruptly and include a well-defined dark spot blotting your vision, overall haziness of vision and eye pain.
If you are an older adult who hasn't had an eye examination in the past six months, please call the Eye Institute of Wyoming, P.C. to schedule an appointment today: (307) 235-5384.