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Age Related Degeneration

Wet & Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is a small area in the retina—the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.

The macula makes up only a small part of the retina, yet it is much more sensitive to detail than the rest of the retina (called the peripheral retina). The macula is what allows you to thread a needle, read small print, and read street signs. The peripheral retina gives you side (or peripheral) vision. If someone is standing off to one side of your vision, your peripheral retina helps you know that person is there by allowing you to see their general shape.

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration.

What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

With macular degeneration, you may have symptoms such as blurriness, dark areas, or distortion in your central vision, and perhaps permanent loss of your central vision. It usually does not affect your side, or peripheral, vision. For example, with advanced macular degeneration, you could see the outline of a clock, yet may not be able to see the hands of the clock to tell what time it is. When macular degeneration does lead to loss of vision, it usually begins in just one eye, though it may affect the other eye later. Many people are not aware that they have macular degeneration until they have a noticeable vision problem or until it is detected during an eye examination.

What Are the Causes of Macular Degeneration?

Causes of macular degeneration include the formation of deposits called drusen under the retina, and in some cases, the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. With or without treatment, macular degeneration alone almost never causes total blindness. People with more advanced cases of macular degeneration continue to have useful vision using their side, or peripheral, vision. In many cases, macular degeneration’s impact on your vision can be minimal.

What Are the Types of Macular Degeneration?

There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry, or atrophic, macular degeneration (also called non-neovascular macular degeneration) with drusen and wet, or exudative, macular degeneration (also called neovascular macular degeneration).

Dry Macular Degeneration

Most people who have macular degeneration have the dry form. This condition is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Macular degeneration usually begins when tiny yellow or white pieces of fatty protein called drusen form under the retina. Eventually, the macula may become thinner and stop working properly.

With dry macular degeneration, vision loss is usually gradual. People who develop dry macular degeneration must carefully and constantly monitor their central vision. If you notice any changes in your vision, you should tell your ophthalmologist right away, as the dry form can change into the more damaging form of macular degeneration called wet (exudative) macular degeneration. While there is no medication or treatment for dry macular degeneration, some people may benefit from a vitamin therapy regimen for dry macular degeneration.

Using an Amsler Grid to Test for Macular Degeneration
If you have been diagnosed with dry macular degeneration, you should use a chart called an Amsler grid every day to monitor your vision, as dry macular degeneration can change into the more damaging wet form.

To use the Amsler grid, wear your reading glasses and hold the grid 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light.

  1. Cover one eye.
  2. Look directly at the center dot with the uncovered eye and keep your eye focused on it.
  3. While looking directly at the center dot, note whether all lines of the grid are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurry, or dark.
  4. Repeat this procedure with the other eye.
  5. If any area of the grid looks wavy, blurred, or dark, contact your ophthalmologist.
  6. If you detect any changes when looking at the grid, you should notify your ophthalmologist immediately.

Wet Macular Degeneration

About 10 percent of people who have macular degeneration have the wet form, but it can cause more damage to your central or detail vision than the dry form.

Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels being to grow underneath the retina. This blood vessel growth is called choroidal neovascularization (CNV) because these vessels grow from the layer under the retina called the choroid. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration may be faster and more noticeable than that from dry macular degeneration.

The longer these abnormal vessels leak or grow, the more risk you have of losing more of your detailed vision. Also, if abnormal blood vessel growth happens in one eye, there is a risk that it will occur in the other eye. The earlier that wet macular degeneration is diagnosed and treated, the better chance you have of preserving some or much of your central vision. That is why it is so important that you and your ophthalmologist monitor your vision in each eye carefully.

Information

Additional Retina Services

General Information

A healthy, intact retina is key to clear vision. Unfortunately, many people suffer from retinal diseases and don’t even realize it. Our ophthalmologist at Rock Hill Eye Center will examine your eyes and watch for any signs of these problems.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that occurs in people with diabetes. This retinal disease affects the blood vessels in the eye and can cause permanent vision loss. If you have diabetes, be aware of this condition and be sure to visit an ophthalmologist for care.

Flashes and Floaters

Eye flashes and floaters can be distracting. But are they a sign of a more serious issue with your retinas? Our eye doctors can help rule out any more serious retinal diseases.

Retinal Tear / Detachment

Not all eye conditions require immediate treatment—but a torn or detached retina does. If you’ve suffered a blow to the eye, visit an ophthalmologist as quickly as possible for an exam. It could save your vision.

Plaquenil Eye Exams

We perform different tests to detect retinal damage due to Plaquenil medication.

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