What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is an eye disease. It occurs in many adults after age 50. One or both eyes may be affected. The macula (the part of the eye that controls central, detailed vision) becomes damaged. Central vision becomes limited. However, side vision remains clear. There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry and Wet.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry is the most common type of macular degeneration. In the early stages, changes in vision may be hard to notice. Over time, your central vision slowly worsens. You may notice wavy lines and blank spots in the center of your vision. Colors may look dim. There is no way to restore vision lost from dry macular degeneration. You need to monitor it because it can turn into wet macular degeneration.
Wet Macular Degeneration?
Wet is less common but more serious. Vision loss is quick and severe. You may suddenly notice dark spots, blank spots, wavy lines and dim colors in the center of your vision. If wet macular degeneration is caught early laser treatments and injections may help slow further vision loss.
Working with Your Doctor
Even if you have Macular Degeneration, the good news is that this disease doesn't cause total blindness. To make the most of your vision, get regular eye exams and monitor your vision.
Dealing with Vision Loss
If you have Macular Degeneration, you can still do many of the activities you did before. You can also monitor your vision and call your doctor if you notice any changes.
Monitor Vision Loss
Sudden vision changes may be a sign of wet macular degeneration. That's why you need to monitor your vision with an Amsler grid (see right). Follow these steps as often as suggested by your doctor.
- Keep the grid at eye level and stand 14 inches away.
- If you wear glasses for reading, put them on. Cover or close one eye. Focus on the black dot in the center of the grid.
- On the grid, mark any vision changes from the day before. This may include black spots or wavy lines that weren't there before.
- Repeat these steps with the other eye.
- Call your doctor right away if you notice any changes.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness. Nowadays the most common cause of severe vision loss among people over 65 is age-related macular degeneration (formerly known as senile macular degeneration). For people 52 to 64 years of age, this eye disease affects one in 50. For people aged 65 to 74, the prevalence increase to one in ten. and for those between 75 and 85, one in three has the disease.
Macular degeneration affects the macula, the tiny central area of the retina. The macula provides central vision, which is essential for seeing fine detail, looking straight at an object, reading and driving. Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of legal blindness, one of the criteria being central vision of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with corrective eyeglasses.
People with macular degeneration are frequently aware of a problem early in the course of the disease. They may complain that their vision has become blurry or distorted or that their reading ability has decreased and words seem to crowd together. Drs. Larry and Michael Morrison can conduct a simple, painless screening to confirm the presence of macular degeneration using their ultramodern digital retinal camera, the first of its kind among local optometrists.
Since so little is known about the direct cause of macular degeneration, effective treatment isn't always possible. Lasers can sometimes be used to seal damaged blood vessels in the early stages of what is called "wet-type" macular degeneration. Other therapies, including drugs, are constantly being explored for every form of macular degeneration. Although macular degeneration cannot be reversed, people with the condition can usually continue their daily activities using their peripheral vision and making the most of their remaining detail vision. Devices like high-intensity reading lamps and magnifiers help compensate for the loss of detail and make some fine work possible again.
For more information on macular degeneration or to schedule an appointment, call the Morrison Eye Care office nearest you.