Know More About Macular Degeneration

At Vision Specialists, we know you want to see your grandchildren grow taller, your spouse smile on your 60th wedding anniversary, and experience life fully at every age. In order to do that, you need clear central vision. The problem is you may be at risk, or have developed macular degeneration, which makes you fearful of going blind. We believe you deserve to see clearly at every stage of life. We understand your fear and concern, which is why we screen for macular degeneration at every routine vision exam and can catch and manage it very early on with today’s latest technology and doctor recommendations. 

Here’s how we do it:

1. Obtain a 3D scan of your macula.

2. Understand your risk or type of macular degeneration.

3. Receive management recommendations so you can have clear central vision for some of life’s greatest moments.

So, schedule an exam today. So you can stop central sight loss and instead manage your risk for AMD. We want you to experience life with the vision you deserve.

Macular Degeneration Made Simple

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, affects 25% of people aged 60 years and older and is the leading cause of blindness. The disease is characterized by changes or damage to the macula, the central area of the retina, that provides sharp vision needed to identify people, objects, and fine detail. Because our population is growing older at an increasing rate in our country, macular degeneration is a major point of concern.

The good news is that macular degeneration alone does not cause blindness as we tend to think of it. Central vision may be damaged where day to day activities are hindered, but it does not cause problems with peripheral vision that lead to a “lights out” effect.

Our eyes function much like a camera: the macula and retina are the film and the cornea, lens and glasses or contacts are the lenses. The lenses focus light onto the film in order to make a detailed image. If the film is damaged in any way, a clear picture will not be produced, regardless of the lenses placed in front. In this same way, if the retina is damaged, especially in the sensitive macula, it affects our ability to read, drive and recognize faces. Sometimes changing a glasses prescription can help magnify images to extend outside the damaged area, but much like the camera analogy, often it’s simply a “film” issue instead of the “lens.”

Schedule an appointment now, so you can stop central sight loss and instead manage your vision so you can fully experience the best of what’s to come.

Dry or Wet?

We understand you want to have a clear vision throughout the entirety of your life. In order to do that, you need to understand AMD, your risk, and how to appropriately manage it.

We often hear macular degeneration referred to as either the “dry” form or the “wet” form.  The technical way of classifying is either non-exudative (dry) or exudative (wet) types. Approximately 90% of the people who have AMD have the dry form, while the remaining 10% have the wet form.

So what makes it “dry” or “wet?” To put it simply, the presence of blood vessel leakage. The retina (the “film” of our camera) is made up of ten layers that intricately communicate in order to process a visual impulse, collecting light and sending it to the brain as efficiently as possible. In both forms of macular degeneration, these retinal layers in the very sensitive macular area get progressively thinner, which causes them to function less efficiently. Photoreceptors, the cells that detect light, produce a waste product called drusen that when accumulated, leads to atrophy. This atrophy is apparent to your doctor as pigmentary changes in the macula and signifies early, dry AMD or non-exudative AMD. Often, this pigmentary change and/or presence of drusen may be the only signs and progression may not occur at all.

If progression does occur, however, greater areas of atrophy may appear. This is called geographic atrophy and is still a type of non-exudative AMD. A larger, well-demarcated area of damage is present with geographic atrophy and thus the patient notices a more significant reduction in vision.

In wet or exudative AMD, the areas of atrophy described above create “spaces” in which new blood vessels can grow up from the blood vessel network underneath the layered retina. This process is called neovascularization. These new vessels are very fragile, and they leak fluid and blood into the macula which disrupts the delicate layered structure. As we know from the camera analogy, the more the film is damaged, the poorer the outcome or picture. Individuals with wet AMD tend to have much greater vision loss than those with dry AMD, and most require some type of injection or laser treatment to help resolve swelling caused by leakage or bleeding. This leaves the patient with permanent scarring of the macula.

The fix is simple:

1. Obtain a 3D scan of your macula.

2. Understand your risk or type of macular degeneration.

3. Receive management recommendations so you can have clear central vision for some of life’s greatest moments.

So, schedule an exam now. So you can understand your risk of AMD and manage it appropriately so you can have sight to experience life fully.

 

Symptoms

At Vision Specialists, we understand the fear of going blind. That is why we’ve invested in technology to catch AMD early and manage it properly so you don’t have to suffer wavy, blurred, or missing sight.

In very early or mild forms of macular degeneration, vision may not be affected at all. If your doctor notices subtle changes within the macula, he or she will discuss lifestyle changes to lower your risk factors of progression and monitor closely. Because many people may be asymptomatic, regular eye examinations are essential for early detection, especially if you have more than one of the risk factors listed below.

If the disease does progress, there may be some vision loss without noticeable symptoms, or the individual may experience wavy or blurred vision or even areas of missing central vision. If the condition continues to worsen or progresses to the wet/exudative form of AMD, central vision may be completely lost. However, as mentioned before, AMD does not affect peripheral or side vision. Many patients with advanced AMD are able to effectively navigate their surroundings and complete activities of daily living using what is called eccentric fixation, which involves looking to the side, above or below the object in question and using the peripheral retina to see detail. 

Schedule an appointment now, so you can take charge of your sight and have vision for your future.

The (Unknown) Cause and Your Level of Risk

You deserve to see clearly at every stage of your life. We can help. Take control of your ocular health by visiting us to better understand what you can do to achieve the vision you ought to have.

There is currently no known cause for macular degeneration, although this topic is being extensively researched, especially as our population continues to age. We do know that the causes are a combination of both heredity and environmental factors, but unsure exactly what causes macular cells to deteriorate. Some of the risk factors are purely genetic, while others we have the ability to influence or modify.

Risk Factors

The number one risk factor for developing macular degeneration is age. In fact, most people over the age of 50 have at least one small drusen, or cell waste product. Your risk also increases as you age. Other risk factors include:

  • Caucasion race, especially those of northern European descent
  • Female gender
  • Family history of AMD
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Unprotected exposure to sun/ultraviolet light

Understanding your risk is simple. Visit us today to obtain a 3D scan of your macula. Then, completely understand your chances of AMD and receive management recommendations so you can have clear vision for life.

 

The Fix

At Vision Specialists, we know you want to watch your children succeed and your grandchildren grow tall. In order to do that, you need the clear central vision you deserve. Our 3D scan complete with the doctor’s thorough evaluation can determine your risk or level of AMD and the appropriate management plan.

Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration, but treatments are available for those with the “wet” form as discussed above. Your doctor can determine whether this is necessary and refer you to an appropriate retinal specialist if required.

Although we cannot control our genetic risk factors, there are lifestyle and environmental changes you can make to lower your risk, or potentially slow progression if you have already been diagnosed with AMD.

Eating a healthy diet (especially green, leafy vegetables) and doing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week has overall health benefits, but diet and exercise can positively influence your macular health as well. Avoiding or discontinuing smoking is a significant preventable measure that reduces risk for several health conditions, notably AMD in terms of ocular health. Also, wearing sunglasses when outdoors that provide ultraviolet (UV) protection is essential to protect the delicate macular pigments and protect against damage that can lead to AMD.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a clinical trial from the National Institute of Health, discovered that a specific formulation of vitamins and antioxidants was shown to reduce the risk of progressing from moderate to severe AMD. Several of these formulas are available over-the-counter, but you should always check with your doctor prior to starting any new medications to ensure there are no contraindications or potentially harmful interactions with your current medications.

With no cure for AMD, the best defense is early detection. Checking the overall retinal health and screening for signs of macular degeneration is part of a comprehensive eye examination, and adults over 50 should see their eye doctor at least once every year.

We understand your fear and concern of going blind, which is why we screen for macular degeneration at every routine vision exam and can catch and manage it very early on with today’s latest technology and doctor recommendations. 

Here’s how we do it:

1. Obtain a 3D scan of your macula.

2. Understand your risk or type of macular degeneration.

3. Receive management recommendations so you can have clear central vision for some of life’s greatest moments.

Schedule an exam today. So you can stop central sight loss and instead manage your risk for AMD so you can experience life fully at every age. You deserve it.

Dr. Jared Holthaus

Dr. Jared Holthaus was chosen from the top candidates from across the nation. Our doctor network has direct access to the most advanced eye care professional education system in the United States.