Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Risks, Symptoms and Treatment

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older Americans, yet most people who suffer from the disease are unaware they have it until noticeable vision is permanently gone. Dr. Robert Askary and Dr. David Blanton, your optometrists at Eye Care Center-Ballantyne here in Charlotte understand that regular comprehensive eye examinations are vital to the early detection of AMD and they are ready to help you preserve your vision.


What is AMD?

The macula is the central part of the retina that provides the fine detail we see in our central vision. Facial recognition, sewing, reading, and driving are simple tasks with a healthy macula. But when the macula deteriorates the images it sends to our brain are less and less clear until visual acuity is permanently lost and those simple tasks become all but impossible.

Dry Macular Degeneration represents 85-90 percent of cases and is the result of thinning macular tissue. As the macula ages and deteriorates, it leaves behind yellow spots, of which the patient is unaware, but are readily detected during a comprehensive eye examination.

Wet Macular Degeneration is a progression of the dry form and affects about 10% of patients. In this form, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes scarring to occur as your retinal cells die; scarring creates blind spots in your vision.

Risk Factors for AMD

Risk of developing AMD increases as we age but there are other factors that affect your risk:

  • Smoking- doubles the risk of developing AMD
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Light Eye Color
  • Heredity- family history of AMD increases risk
  • Obesity- Doubles the risk of developing advanced AMD

Symptoms of AMD

It is unfortunate that many people shrug off vision changes as an expected part of the aging process. There are no noticeable symptoms in the earliest stage of AMD. Your eye doctor will perform a Comprehensive Eye Examination which can detect AMD before symptoms begin. Other symptoms can be:

  • Reduced color brightness
  • Straight lines appearing bent
  • Sensitivity to glare or bright lights
  • Blurred area on a printed page

Treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Currently, AMD cannot be prevented or cured. Once vision has been lost, it is gone permanently. For this reason, as we age, regularly scheduled eye doctor appointments must become a routine part of our overall health maintenance.

Your optometrists at Eye Care Center-Ballantyne in Charlotte know that early detection of macular degeneration leads to the best treatment outcome. Changes in nutrition, medications, and lifestyle can help halt the progress of AMD.  Call our office for an appointment today. (704) 541-5500.

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