According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF®), more than 10 million Americans currently face macular degeneration. This incurable eye disease remains the leading cause of vision loss. When diagnosed in time, the optometrists at Classic Vision Care in Kennesaw and Marietta, Georgia, Mital Patel, OD, Mark Machen, OD, and Ashley Swalla, OD, offer tips to possibly slow its progression.

Causes of macular degeneration

The exact causes of macular degeneration are unclear. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects mostly people over 50 years of age due to a thinning of the macula, the portion of your retina responsible for your direct line of sight. Fortunately, it doesn’t affect your peripheral vision. While age-related macular degeneration remains the most prevalent, children and young adults may also suffer from a variety of diseases that cause juvenile macular degeneration (JMD), such as Stargardt’s Disease.

Setting the stage

Dr. Patel determines whether you suffer from macular degeneration, and if so, what stage it falls into, including:

Stage one

Regular eye exams remain crucial, since many people don’t experience vision loss in the beginning.

Stage two

You experience some vision loss; however, the presence of yellow deposits beneath your retina, called drusen, may indicate the disease.

Final stage

You notice extensive vision loss.

Should you suffer from this disease, our team recommends options to slow its progression.

Seeing the signs

There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Dr. Patel determines which you may have based upon a variety of issues.

Wet macular degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is due to the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina, which leak blood and fluids. It causes inflammation that injures the macula in one or both eyes, resulting in:

  • Visual distortion
  • Reduced central vision
  • Blurry vision or dark spots

Dry macular degeneration

Much more common, this may cause:

  • Blurriness
  • Distortion of straight lines
  • Necessity for brighter lighting
  • Colors to look faded
  • Faces to become more difficult to recognize
  • Trouble focusing in low light
  • Damage to your retina

Unchecked, dry macular degeneration may lead to the more severe wet type. Although it takes longer for dry macular degeneration to manifest, it’s crucial to receive a diagnosis as soon as possible to slow its progression.

Treatments to hasten the disease’s progress

While there’s no cure, Dr. Patel and our colleagues recommend certain treatments to help you maintain your vision longer, such as:

  • Medication to halt the growth of new blood vessels
  • Photodynamic therapy using medication and a special laser
  • Photocoagulation via high-energy laser beams to destroy abnormal blood vessels

We may also suggest surgery to implant a telescopic lens that replaces your eye’s natural lens.

Issues to consider

Losing your vision through macular degeneration is traumatic. Dr. Patel eases your concerns, discussing:

  • What stage you’re in
  • Whether the disease will progress
  • Treatment options
  • What lifestyle changes, such as supplements and diet, might help

Although this disease may be hereditary, lifestyle issues, such as smoking and obesity, increase your risk. High blood pressure and heart disease also play a factor. To avoid further complications, it’s important to make certain changes, including:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat fish and nuts high in Omega-3 fatty acids to help offset inflammation
  • Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants to slow AMD

It’s easy to see… the sooner, the better

Dr. Patel and our compassionate staff hope to diagnose any eye conditions, such as macular degeneration, as soon as possible to help slow or prevent their progression. If you notice any significant changes in your vision or wish to schedule your yearly exam, call us or book an appointment online with Classic Vision Care today.



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