Macular Degeneration

What is it...?

The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden. Deprived of nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision.

AMD is the number-one cause of vision loss in the U.S. Macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness because it doesn’t affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

  • A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
  • A gradual loss of color vision
  • Distorted or blurry vision
  • A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision

Amsler Grid

The Amsler grid is a simple square containing a grid pattern and a dot in the middle. This design, when used correctly, can show problem spots in your field of vision.

Amsler Grid

To use the Amsler grid, follow these steps once a day, every day:

  1. Wearing any glasses you normally use to read, hold the grid 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light.
  2. Cover one eye.
  3. Look directly at the center dot with your uncovered eye and keep your eye focused on it.
  4. While looking directly at the center dot, notice in your side vision if all grid lines look straight or if any lines or areas look blurry, wavy, dark or blank.
  5. Follow the same steps with the other eye.

If you notice any areas of the grid that appear darker, wavy, blank or blurry, CONTACT US right away and we will get you scheduled with our ophthalmologists as soon as we can. .

Remember: doing this simple at-home eye test once a day, every day can help save your vision.

There Are Two Kinds Of AMD:

Wet (neovascular/exudative) and dry (non-neovascular). About 10-15% of people with AMD have the wet form. “Neovascular” means “new vessels.” Accordingly, wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow into the retina as the eye attempts to compensate for the blocked arteries. These new vessels are very fragile, and often leak blood and fluid between the layers of the retina. Not only does this leakage distort vision, but when the blood dries, scar tissue forms on the retina as well. This creates a dark spot in the patient’s vision.

Dry AMD is much more common than wet AMD. Patients with this type of macular degeneration do not experience new vessel growth. Instead, symptoms include thinning of the retina, loss of retinal pigment and the formation of small, round particles inside the retina called drusen. Vision loss with dry AMD is slower and often less severe than with wet AMD.

Recent developments in ophthalmology allow doctors to treat many patients with early-stage AMD with the help of lasers and medication.

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