When it comes to protecting your eyes and your vision, few people want to take any chances. And for many, the idea of a disease that can result in significantly reduced vision is scary. One of the most common diseases for older Americans is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). What is macular degeneration? What should you know about it? And what can you do to help prevent it? Here are some answers to your pressing questions.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Your eye is a complex machine in which all parts must function together to result in clear vision. One key component is the macula. This small, round area at the back of the eyeball is part of the retina and serves to focus vision on things that are often directly in front of you. This includes things like reading, looking at the faces of people you talk to, or noticing small movements.
At times, this macula begins to thin and lose its ability to focus light into images. There are two types of degeneration, each with their own characteristics. But the end result can be the same — increasing blurriness and dark spots in your direct vision. Peripheral vision (vision on the sides rather than in the center) may remain unaffected.
What Types of Macular Degeneration Exist?
Macular degeneration is diagnosed in two varieties: wet and dry. Dry AMD occurs when small proteins infiltrate the weakening macula and hinder its function and your view. These proteins may build up over a long period of time — even years.
The wet version of AMD can be more worrying because it happens much faster. This time, it's abnormal blood vessels that invade the macula and cause vision problems. These vessels may bleed into the retina, which is why this type of AMD gets the moniker 'wet.' This can happen rapidly in comparison with dry AMD.
How Can You Treat Macular Degeneration?
Ophthalmological science is working on effective treatments and cures for both types of AMD. Doctors have had more success treating wet AMD and its problem with blood vessels. A branch of treatments known as anti-VEGF medicines can often slow down and reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels. Your doctor may also recommend laser treatment to reduce these.
Unfortunately, dry macular degeneration has proven more difficult to treat. Some patients see benefits from a combination of supplements and foods that promote eye health in key areas. You may also seek out therapy to learn better ways to adjust to reduced vision. Your eye doctor will keep you abreast of advances and new treatments for dry AMD.
How Can You Prevent Macular Degeneration?
One of the best tools for preventing vision problems from age-related macular degeneration are regular visits to your eye professional. They examine the retina to look for, among other things, the development of new blood vessels or the proteins that cause dry AMD. Certain tests, such as the Amsler grid, are designed to test specifically for signs of degenerating macula.
Another important step is to learn the risk factors for macular degeneration and work to reduce any that affect you. While you can't reverse the aging process or change your genetics, you can reduce risk factors like smoking, eating a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol, high blood pressure, and being overweight. A little prevention may go a long way.
Where Can You Learn More?
If you are rightly concerned about losing some of your invaluable vision to age-related macular degeneration, start by learning more about it. Meet with the doctors at Davies Eye Center today. We will answer your questions and help you take steps to protect your eyes. Make an appointment today.