Macular Degeneration - Diagnosing and Addressing
What is macular degeneration?
Have you heard your friends, family or doctors talk about macular degeneration? If you’re over 50, it’s highly likely you have. But even if you’re younger, if you’re keeping up with your annual eye exam, you’ve probably already been tested at least once. But what is Macular Degeneration? And what should you know about its symptoms?
Macular degeneration—or Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)--is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 50. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.8 million people have Macular Degeneration and another 7.3 million are at substantial risk of vision loss due to this disease. While those numbers can be shocking, consistent eye doctor check-ups-- along with being informed about prevention and its symptoms--can help you protect your vision from deteriorating.
Symptoms & Causes of Macular Degeneration
To understand what macular degeneration is, it’s best to first understand what the macula is and how it helps you see. The macula is a part of the retina at the back of the eye. Despite being only 5mm across, it’s responsible for our central vision, most color vision, and the fine detail in what you see. (American Optometric Association, AOA)
Macular degeneration occurs when there are changes to the macula, which results in the development of key symptoms of ARMD. Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- Difficulty seeing people’s faces
- Difficulty reading on your phone or tablet
- Shadowy areas in your central vision
- Unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. (All About Vision)
Types of Macular Degeneration & Prevention
Macular Degeneration comes in two forms: “wet” and the more common “dry”. While there is no cure for dry degeneration—and the lost vison cannot be restored—researchers and doctors believe that there is a link between nutrition and the progression of macular degeneration. Making dietary changes and taking nutritional supplements can slow vision loss according to the AOA.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet full of antioxidants—like kale, spinach, broccoli and squash— along with frequent exercise can help reduce your risk of macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration is when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, which die off and create blind spots in central vision. However, wet macular degeneration is less common and treatable if it’s caught early on.
Get Tested For Macular Degeneration
When monitoring and treating Macular Degeneration, MyEyeDr. uses specific tools and instruments (such as retinal imaging to examine your macula) to measure the degree of the disease, how it could evolve over time and ultimately, how the patient should be treated.
If you think you are experiencing some vision loss, schedule an appointment with your local MyEyeDr. practice who can help with diagnosis and treatment recommendations. To see one of our optometrists, make an appointment using our online scheduler or by calling your local MyEyeDr. office.
Check out MyEyeDr.’s ‘Not Just Carrots’ video series that features many eye healthy recipes to help you incorporate the nutrients you need to protect your eyes and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and other eye diseases.