A: It is an abnormality or disease of the macula, the center part of your retina, which is the lining of the back of your eye responsible for processing the images you see. The macula allows you to see fine details and when it doesn’t work properly, central vision can become blurry or distorted.
There are two different kinds of macular degeneration. The first and most common type is the dry form, which results in thinning of the macular tissue and gradual vision loss. The second is the wet form, and because of fluid or blood in the retina, vision loss occurs more rapidly.
What causes macular degeneration?
The major risk factors include being over the age of 50, having a family history of macular degeneration and cigarette smoking.
How would I know if I have it?
Macular degeneration can present with a variety of symptoms, but most commonly, people will describe that their central vision is blurry. They may also notice that straight lines look distorted or bent or that there are blind spots in their direct line of sight.
How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
I encourage people to self-test weekly by covering up each eye separately and checking their vision. If it appears blurry or distorted, you should call an eye doctor right away to schedule a dilated eye exam. At that time, an optical coherence tomography, or a picture of the back of the eye allows us to look for characteristics of the disease like drusen’s (protein) under the surface of the retina, or swelling in the eye.
How is macular degeneration treated?
If it’s the dry form, over the counter antioxidant vitamin supplements called AREDS 2 have been shown in clinical trials to prevent AMD from progressing.
If it’s the wet form, the most common treatment is anti-VEGF, an injection in the eye that targets receptors in abnormal vessels
and stops them from bleeding
The medications have revolutionized the treatment of macular degeneration and prevented vision loss and blindness in millions of people.
Frequent visits with your eye care specialist are the best way to identify macular degeneration early.