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Understanding Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration affects around 11 million Americans and is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness. While this disease is prevalent, many don’t understand the condition and how it affects your eyes and vision. 

Here at the Retina Specialists, our expert ophthalmologists diagnose and treat macular degeneration at our offices in Dallas, DeSoto, Plano, Mesquite, and Waxahachie, Texas. We have years of experience with the disease and can help you understand the condition, including the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options.

Macular degeneration facts

The macula is in the middle of your retina, and its function is to provide your central vision. It’s critical to reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Macular degeneration is usually age related, and there are two types of the disease, dry and wet. 

Dry macular degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the most common form of the disease. Around 80% of people who have macular degeneration have the dry type. Dry macular degeneration occurs when your macula becomes thin and dry, and tiny clumps of protein called drusen form on this part of your retina. 

Wet macular degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is much less common but is a more serious eye condition. This type of the disease occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind your retina leak blood and other fluids into your eye, which scars your macula. Wet macular degeneration can cause faster vision loss. 

Symptoms of macular degeneration

With both types of macular degeneration, you might not notice a problem until your vision is impaired. For example, your central vision might become blurry or shadowed. Straight lines might appear wavy. You might also have trouble reading in low light or become sensitive to glare. 

Often, we’re able to identify macular degeneration warning signs during a routine eye exam, well before you notice a change in your vision.

Risk factors

Your risk of developing macular degeneration increases with age, as it usually emerges in people over 50. 

Other factors that influence your chances of developing the disease include:

You may also have an elevated risk of macular degeneration if you have a family history of the disease. 

Diagnosing macular degeneration

Our team provides comprehensive eye exams to look for signs of macular degeneration. We also use an Amsler Grid to evaluate your central vision. We might recommend optical coherence tomography (OCT) — a special type of retinal scan — or fluorescein angiography to examine your retina in close detail. 

Treating macular degeneration

The bad news is that there is no cure for dry macular degeneration. We can help slow the progression of your condition and provide prescription lenses, magnifying devices, and other equipment to help you see. You might benefit from adding supplements to your diet, including vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, Zinc, and copper. 

However, if you have wet macular degeneration, we have various treatments available to restore your eye health. Depending on your specific needs, we can prescribe anti-VEGF medication to stop your retinal blood vessels from leaking into your eye. We might also recommend laser treatment to shrink your abnormal blood vessels and prevent leakage. 

If you’re due for an eye exam or have concerns about macular degeneration, call one of our offices to schedule an appointment today. Routine exams are the best way to monitor your eye health and get the treatment you need as early as possible. 

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