But when we catch it early, we can slow and even stop the vision loss from occurring. At Elite Vision Care, our highly experienced eye doctors use top-of-the-line retinal technology to identify early warning signs of macular degeneration, then formulate a treatment program just for you.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Your retina is a thin wall of tissue lining the back of your eye, and its job is to translate light into electrical signals your brain can interpret as images. The center of the retina is known as the macula, and provides your central vision.
Macular degeneration (sometimes known as age-related macular degeneration, or just AMD) is an eye disease in which the macula experiences some degradation. It’s a natural thing that happens with age and the growing vulnerability of the macula. This can warp and distort your vision, and even cause permanent vision loss, meaning it’s important to get out in front of AMD early.
The Types of AMD
There are two primary forms of AMD:
Dry AMD: This accounts for approximately 90% of AMD cases. The macula thins and degrades slowly over time, and you’ll experience gradually more noticeable symptoms such as blurry vision, difficulty seeing in low light, and vision loss.
Wet AMD: This comes on more suddenly and without warning. Weak blood vessels around the retina begin to leak or burst, and subsequently damage the macula. Wet AMD causes headaches, eye pain, “spots” in your field of vision, and rapid-onset vision loss.
How to Recognize Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
It’s important to see an eye doctor if you notice symptoms of macular degeneration, such as any of the following:
- Distorted or warped vision
- Loss of central vision
- Blind spots
- Difficulty seeing in low light
- Difficulty seeing small print
- Difficulty distinguishing facial features
- A fading or yellowing of color
These symptoms may come on more slowly for a case of dry AMD, but rapidly for a case of wet AMD.
Causes & Risk Factors
There isn’t a singular cause of AMD, but there are a number of risk factors:
- Being over age 50
- Having a family history of AMD
- Being Caucasian
- Being a smoker or frequently exposed to secondhand smoke
- Regular sun exposure
- Obesity, lack of exercise, and poor diet
While we can’t control things such as our age or family history, we can all make small lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, or getting better about sun protection, that will go a long way towards holding off AMD. It’s always important to have an annual eye exam to check for potential signs of macular degeneration, but especially important if you have one of these risks.
Treatment Options from Macular Degeneration Doctors
Our goal at Elite Vision Care is to begin managing your AMD case as early as possible so that we can prevent the disease from causing any serious vision loss. Our concierge service means that you get personalized attention throughout your care, and you can feel comfortable and confident in your treatment.
The first step we take with AMD is using our high-end technology to monitor your retinal health. We use an Optos optomap for retinal imaging, and a visual field analyzer to check for vision loss and blind spots. We also offer macular pigment optical density (MPOD) testing, which looks at the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin pigments present in your macula. A lower amount of these can indicate a weakening macula.
If you have an advanced or complicated case, we will work closely with a local macular degeneration doctor to determine the best course of AMD management for you.
AREDS 2-Based Vitamins & Supplements
In many cases, the best solution for managing the progression of AMD is a series of vitamin supplements based on the groundbreaking AREDS 2 study, which determined which vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants content would best help protect someone’s vision from macular degeneration.
These can support your overall eye health and function, and strengthen the macular pigment optical density (MPOD) in your retina, helping prevent it from breaking down. Talk to your doctor about which supplements might be right for you.
Macular Degeneration Doctor Co-Management
We have long-standing relationships with local macular degeneration doctors that have served our patients well, especially those with wet AMD or more advanced dry AMD cases. We co-manage your care to ensure that your new doctor knows you as well as we do, and that any transition in care will feel seamless. We’ll continue to supplement your treatment throughout any co-managed case, so that you maintain your comfort level and have the best possible outcome.