December 30, 2019
Macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is a common condition that usually first begins to affect people after the age of 50. It doesn’t cause total blindness, but it does affect the middle part of your vision and this can make everyday activities such as reading, driving and even recognizing faces much more difficult than before. It isn’t known exactly why some patients develop AMD and others don’t, but research indicates a link between unhealthy lifestyles and the diagnosis of the condition.
Here’s what you need to know about the signs of macular degeneration and what treatment is available should you be affected.
There are two different types of AMD. These are known as ‘dry’ and ‘wet’.
Dry AMD is the most common form and is caused by an accumulation of a fatty substance called drusen at the back of the eyes. It usually develops slowly over several years.
Wet AMD is fairly uncommon and is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels at the back of the eyes. It comes on quickly, usually in a matter of a few weeks.
The best way to spot macular degeneration is to visit your eye doctor for regular comprehensive eye exams. In many cases, these appointments will detect the presence of macular degeneration before you even realize it for yourself. Nevertheless, there are symptoms that you can look out for that indicate that you may have this condition. These include:
Seeing straight lines appear as wavy or crooked
Objects seem smaller than normal
Colors look less bright than before
A blurred/distorted area in the center of your vision
It is important to note that macular degeneration can affect a single eye or both. The rate at which they are affected can also vary, meaning that it is possible for your vision to be better in one eye than another. There are also not usually any visible changes to the appearance of your eyes.
Whether or not there is a treatment for your condition will depend on the type of AMD that you are diagnosed with. Unfortunately, in the case of dry AMD, there is no cure for your symptoms. Instead, patients must manage them using some of the visual aids that are available to them. These could include:
Glasses or contact lenses
Brighter lighting in your home
Computer apps and equipment that make using them and other mobile devices easier
Since AMD has been shown to be linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, making changes such as losing weight, eating a nutritious and balanced diet and getting plenty of exercises may also help with your symptoms.
If you have wet AMD, there are treatments that can stop your vision from getting worse. These are predominantly in the form of eye injections that are given alongside numbing eye drops to ensure minimal discomfort. Some patients may also be referred for photodynamic therapy (PDT) which is a form of light treatment, designed to destroy the abnormal blood vessels that cause wet AMD. This may be carried out alongside eye injections.
If you are concerned about macular degeneration and you have further questions, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment to speak to our expert eye care team, call our offices in Rockport, ME today.