Macular Degeneration

Illustrations of Macular Degeneration and its effect on vision

Macular degeneration is a disorder than can lead to partial or total loss of central vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness in the United States in people over the age of 65. AMD is present in approximately 10 percent of the population over age 50 and in up to 33 percent of persons over the age of 75.

AMD is a degenerative disease that begins deep in the retina. The earliest clinical manifestations of AMD are small yellow spots called drusen that appear near the macula. The presence of drusen does not necessarily indicate AMD, but it can be a warning that there is potential for eventual visual loss.

There are two forms of AMD, “dry” and “wet.” In general, the “dry” form is less severe. It causes a gradual, painless distortion of central vision and can affect color vision. Drusen will be present with the “dry” form.

The “wet” form of AMD produces much more severe visual problems and can progress very quickly. In the “wet” form, drusen are also present and new blood vessels grow in the macular area. This destroys photoreceptors, which are primarily responsible for our central vision.

AMD is more common in individuals who have a family history of AMD, are of fair complexion and in those who have a history of cardiovascular problems. Smoking is also a very significant risk factor.

If you are at risk for AMD, there are some precautions that you can take to help prevent its development:

  • Have regular eye exams. Early diagnosis is your best defense against developing visual problems due to AMD. Our clinic is equipped with the latest technology necessary to diagnose and monitor AMD.
  • Eat a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E and zinc. This can help reduce retinal damage by controlling chemical reactions initiated by free radicals. These vitamins are commonly found in fresh vegetables and fruits. The nutrient Lutein has valuable properties for promoting healthy eyes. It is found in vegetables such as fresh spinach and tomatoes.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV coatings. This helps reduce the risk of damage to the macula by harmful UV radiation.

If AMD is causing your vision to deteriorate, there are medications that can be used as well as laser procedures that can be performed to control its progression.

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