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Macular degeneration is the top cause of vision loss among older adults in the U.S., affecting about 10 million people - more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. Also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD, macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease that affects the macula, the portion of the retina that provides central vision. Over time, central vision becomes less clear and complete loss of central vision can eventually occur. Macular degeneration can occur in two forms: “dry” AMD that occurs when small spots called drusen form in the retina (located at the back of the eye) and “wet” AMD that occurs when tiny blood vessels form under the retina and leak into the macula.
Macular degeneration can cause different symptoms depending on whether the wet or dry form is present and how far the disease has progressed. In its earliest stages, AMD may cause few or no symptoms. As the disease progresses, patients may notice a slight dimming in their central vision, and straight lines may appear wavy. Eventually, blurry spots or “white patches” may appear in the patient’s central vision. These areas of vision loss can eventually spread to “block out” the patient’s entire central field of vision. In addition to older age, other risk factors for AMD include obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. People with lighter-colored eyes are also at an increased risk for AMD.
Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient’s symptoms and a dilated eye exam using special drops to gently widen the pupil so the ophthalmologist can carefully evaluate the retina. During the exam, the patient may be asked to look at a special grid to determine if any lines appear wavy. Another test called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) may be performed using a special dye to look for new blood vessel formation and vessel leakage.
There is no cure for AMD, and treatment for macular degeneration is focused on slowing the progression of the disease. Medications including dietary supplements are often used in treatment. Injections and laser treatments can also be helpful in treating patients with the wet form of the disease. Routine eye exams are also important for monitoring the progression of the disease.
AREDS stands for Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an ophthalmology study funded by the National Eye Institute to evaluate treatments for both AMD and cataracts. The study found high doses of specific nutrients may help slow the progression of AMD in some patients. Because AREDS supplements contain very high levels of vitamins and the minerals copper and zinc, they should be taken under the guidance of your eye doctor.
Brandon Eye Associates is a top-ranked ophthalmology practice in Brandon and Plant City, offering comprehensive care for patients of all ages. As a leading eye doctor, Brandon Eye Associates offers eye exams, contact lens fittings, and other services aimed at helping every patient enjoy optimal eye health good vision. To learn more about macular degeneration or to schedule a routine eye exam, call Brandon Eye Associates at 813-684-2211 today.
I have benefited tremendously from the eye care I received from Brandon Eye Associates
John/ Brandon, FL
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