Over 11 million Americans have macular degeneration, a prevalent eye disease that occurs when the macula deteriorates. Your maculas are the parts of your retinas that provide your central vision.
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Wet is less common, but treatable. Around 85-90% of people with macular degeneration have the dry, incurable type of the disease.
How do you know if you have macular degeneration, and if you do, what type?
Our team of expert ophthalmologists at the Retina Specialists offices in Dallas, DeSoto, Plano, Mesquite, and Waxahachie, Texas, offer comprehensive exams to diagnose and identify retinal diseases like macular degeneration.
We share some details about macular degeneration that can help you understand your condition and how to protect your vision.
Have regular eye exams
We can’t stress this enough. As you age, your risk of developing eye diseases like macular degeneration increases. It doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms or vision changes in its early stages, so eye exams are critical to catching and treating macular degeneration as early as possible.
Macular degeneration symptoms
As macular degeneration progresses and your retina deteriorates, your central vision begins to change. Straight lines might start to look wavy, or your central vision might become fuzzy or blurry. Colors might begin to fade, or you could develop dark spots in your central vision.
As your central vision deteriorates, you might start to have trouble reading, watching television, or even recognizing people. Your eyes will also become sensitive to changes in light, which can make driving or going indoors after being out in the sunlight disorienting.
You might also find it difficult to notice texture or contrast differences, or you may lose depth perception, which can increase your risk of falling or injuring yourself.
How to tell the difference between wet and dry macular degeneration
The symptoms for wet and dry macular degeneration are the same, so the only way to know which type you have and the best treatment options is to have a thorough eye exam.
Dry macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration develops when clumps of a protein called drusen form on your macula. While there’s no cure for dry macular degeneration, you might be able to slow the progression of your disease and vision loss with vitamin supplements.
Wet macular degeneration
Wet macular degeneration develops when the blood vessels in your retina leak blood and other fluid onto your macula, causing damage and scarring. We can treat wet macular degeneration by addressing the leaky blood vessels. Depending on your needs, we can prescribe medication or provide photodynamic therapy to stop abnormal blood vessels from growing or leaking.
High blood pressure and diabetes are two common causes of abnormal blood vessel proliferation in the eyes. If you have either of these conditions, work with your primary care provider to manage your health.
If you’re concerned about macular degeneration, or you’re due for a comprehensive eye exam, call one of our offices to make an appointment.