Macular Degeneration

man with macular degeneration

Even though few people have heard of it, macular degeneration is surprisingly common and is rapidly becoming a leading cause of vision loss in people over age 50. People diagnosed with macular degeneration suffer from deterioration of the central retina (the macula): This is the area of the retina that gives us the ability to see “20/20”. When the macula does not function properly, the central vision can become distorted, blurry, and/or dark.

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

While experts do not understand what causes macular degeneration, their research ties the condition to aging (Age is the most significant risk factor for developing macular degeneration). Other underlying risk factors seem to include a patient’s genetics, having light-colored eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or a history of smoking. Macular degeneration accounts for about 90 percent of new legal blindness in the United States.

What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

The visual symptoms involve loss of central vision. With macular degeneration, one may lose the clear, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading, and recognizing faces. If you begin to notice your vision is deteriorating, time is of the essence, so please schedule an appointment today: If we know you are experiencing vision loss, Northside Vision offers priority scheduling.

What is the Difference Between Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration?

The two most common types of macular degeneration are the “dry form” and “wet form”.

About 90% of macular degeneration is the dry form, which results in the development of retinal drusen and/or atrophy of the central retina. Dry macular degeneration often advances over many years and vision loss is usually gradual.

The wet form of macular degeneration is more serious but occurs much less frequently (accounting for barely 10% of cases). With the wet form, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina and cause fluid or blood to leak. Often with the wet form, vision loss can be rapid and severe.

How is Macular Degeneration Treated?

Currently, there is no effective treatment for dry macular degeneration. However, intervention measures, such as specially formulated eye vitamin supplements, may help to delay and possibly prevent the advancement of the condition. However, it is very important to schedule regular macular health exams to monitor your eyes for the conversion from dry to wet. If you suspect you're at risk for macular degeneration, Dr. Fairborn offers a carefully curated selection of quality supplements, clinically indicated to help with dry macular degeneration.

Treatment for wet macular degeneration often involves the injections of prescription medication into the eye. These medications are anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) agents, which can help suppress the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the retina and help stabilize vision. It is important that wet macular degeneration be detected early because it can cause macular scarring which is irreversible. Patients may require repeat injections to manage their wet macular degeneration.

As with so many eye diseases, early detection can prove decisive in the fight against macular degeneration. Especially if you or a loved one are 50 years or older, please let the caring experts at Northside Vision help you ensure you can enjoy maximum lifetime vision by keeping your regularly-scheduled eye exams in our comfortable, state-of-the-art facilities.