What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD), is the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, known as the macula. Since the macula controls the central vision of the eye, it can cause great difficulty with reading, focusing on objects, color vision, and driving a car. There are numerous types of macular degeneration, with the two most common types being “wet” and “dry” macular degeneration.
Who is at risk for macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is currently affecting the population more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. Due to the aging of the US population, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. Your risk of having macular degeneration starts to increase around the age of 50 years old. Macular degeneration is largely genetic in origin and can also be associated with other factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and long-term exposure to sunlight without the proper eye protection.
How can I tell if I have macular degeneration?
An Amsler grid is a common tool that doctors provide to their patients to help them monitor their vision changes. This chart can be used at home to help detect changes in your vision. A complete eye exam with your physician is required to accurately detect macular degeneration.
How do you treat macular degeneration?
Routine visits with your eye care provider are the best way to slow the development of macular degeneration. As there is no cure for this disease, early detection is the key to reducing your risk of the disease worsening.
With new forms of treatment, primarily intravitreal injections, we are now able to stabilize this disease in most cases, and the majority of patients maintain or recover useful and functioning vision. Intravitreal injections are currently being done in the US more frequently than cataract surgery.
Your physician will determine the best treatment plan to treat macular degeneration. Changes to your lifestyle and diet may also help to slow the development of the disease. Your physician may suggest adding certain dietary supplements or vitamins to your diet that lower the risk of the disease progressing.