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Age-Related Macular Degeneration Symptoms

Posted by Dr. Danny P. Malone on Jun 22, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Blurred vision is the most common symptom of macular degeneration. It’s typically found in people over the age of 60 and more than 200,000 cases are diagnosed every year. It is the leading cause of vision loss among older people with a total of over 2 million diagnosed, a number expected to grow to over 5 million by 2050 as our population ages. 

Other symptoms include: needing increasingly brighter light for reading, blurred words in reading, vision distortion such as straight lines looking wavy, as well as difficulty recognizing faces.

What is Macular Degeneration?

old man readingThe macula is the center of the retina, which is the tissue at the back of the eye that enables vision. The macula provides our central field of vision. Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, which leads to loss of seeing fine detail followed by blind spots and over time to complete loss of vision. 

There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Dry is the most common type covering 85–90% of patients. It is caused by deteriorating tissue in the macula that appears as yellowish or white spots on the macula, called drusen. There are several types of drusen, some with more risk than others. A few may not be an indication of macular degeneration.

Wet macular degeneration is caused by the growth of new blood vessels in the macula. It develops much more aggressively and can lead to vision loss within months. 

What Are the Causes of Macular Degeneration?

The exact causes behind macular degeneration are not yet known, but there are a few factors that are known to increase risk:

  • Age, over 65 increases risk
  • Family history of macular degeneration
  • Sunlight is thought to increase risk, but it has not yet been proven
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity and high fat diet

What Are the Treatments?

There is no cure, but there are treatments that can slow progression of the disease. For wet macular degeneration there are drugs that can block the development of new blood vessels and leakage. Laser treatments that have also shown promise. There are also some surgical options.  

For dry macular degeneration there are a number of studies around vitamin supplements. These have included lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, as well as zinc and copper. More research is needed to show what is really effective. 

What Can I Do About It?

If you’re at risk, you can take steps to reduce the threat such as to quit smoking, eat a heathly diet, exercise and lose weight, and wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV and high-energy visible radiation.

You can also have regular vision check-ups, at a minimum every two years. Vision tests are not only for generating a prescription for your glasses or contacts, but to ensure that every aspect of your vision is meticulously reviewed to identify the start of just such eye problems as macular degeneration.

Vision Source Plano has extensive experience and expertise in all aspects of eye care, including macular degeneration. If you have concerns, or just want to start your regular check-ups, give us a call and let’s get started providing you superb vision care.

Use our contact form or call us at 972-612-2099.

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Topics: eyesight problems, macular degeneration