Macular degeneration is a common eye condition responsible for central vision loss in older adults. Many people develop the disease as part of the natural aging process.
While macular degeneration rarely leads to total blindness, it can result in significant and life-changing visual impairment. Your best defenses include carefully monitoring your eyesight and scheduling routine comprehensive exams.
The board-certified ophthalmologists at Susskind & Almallah Eye Associates have decades of experience detecting and managing macular degeneration. Call 732-349-5622 to schedule an appointment today. We serve patients from Manalapan Township, Toms River, Brick, Barnegat, and nearby areas of New Jersey.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration involves damage to the part of the eye needed for clear central vision. Since the damage tends to occur as a person ages, the disease is commonly known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). Unfortunately, this progressive condition can lead to serious vision problems and even legal blindness.
With macular degeneration, your central field of vision may look blurry or obstructed while your peripheral (side) vision remains normal. For this reason, macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. However, it can make reading, driving, and other tasks difficult or impossible.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration:
- Dry Macular Degeneration: Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease. It affects roughly 80 percent off all AMD sufferers. With dry AMD, the macula becomes thin, and small clumps of protein start to accumulate in the area.
- Wet Macular Degeneration: Wet AMD is less common than dry, but more severe. In fact, this form is responsible for roughly 90 percent of AMD-related vision loss.
- Wet AMD refers to the formation of abnormal blood vessels beneath the retina. These blood vessels are problematic because they can leak vision-distorting fluids. Eventually, the vessels cause enough damage to form a scar. People with wet AMD experience a faster rate of vision loss than those with the dry form.
The dry form of macular degeneration can develop into the wet form. While this progression is relatively uncommon, it accounts for a majority of the serious vision loss associated with the disease.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Age-related macular degeneration does not typically present symptoms until the later stages. A comprehensive eye examination is the only way to detect AMD early on. That is why regular exams are the best defense against this disease.
Often, the first noticeable symptom of AMD is a change in the overall quality of your vision. This change can be sudden or gradual. For example, you may notice that straight lines appear wavy or that you have difficulty seeing fine details.
Other symptoms include issues in the center of your vision, such as:
- A dark or dim spot
- Blind spots
It is possible to have AMD in just one eye. Additionally, you can have a different stage of the disease in one eye than the other. If you notice any changes in your vision, make an appointment with our ophthalmologists.
Managing Macular Degeneration
Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration. The good news is that there are options for managing the disease and potentially slowing its progression if you have been diagnosed. These options include lifestyle changes, optical aids, and professional treatments.
Proper nutrition is an excellent defense against AMD. Studies suggest that people with dry AMD may benefit from taking specific vitamins and mineral such as vitamin C and E, copper, and lutein. Our ophthalmologists can let you know which, if any, nutritional supplements may help slow your dry AMD.
Low vision aids and assistive technology can help you deal with vision loss while allowing you to maintain your regular routine. Options include special eyeglasses, large-print reading materials, hand-held magnifiers, and computer software programs that convert text to speech.
When it comes to addressing advanced forms of wet AMD, a more involved approach may be necessary, such as:
- Anti-VEGF Drugs: This treatment helps reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels and slows leaking. It is administered through a tiny needle.
- Laser Therapy: Laser therapy involves aiming a high-energy laser beam at the abnormal blood vessels beneath the retina. The laser helps to seal the vessels and prevent them from growing.
- Photodynamic Therapy: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves a light-activated drug and a low power laser. After the drug travels to the abnormal blood vessels, the laser is used to activate the drug and damage the vessels. Multiple sessions may be needed for optimal results.
Contact Our New Jersey Ophthalmologists Today
To learn more about macular degeneration and your treatment options, call 732-349-5622 to schedule an eye appointment. The experienced eye doctors at Susskind & Almallah Eye Associates serve Manalapan Township, Toms River, Brick, Barnegat, and nearby areas of New Jersey.