There are many reasons to get eye exams, especially as you start to get older. For many people, vision stabilizes as the eyes stop growing, but new issues can arise again when a person reaches their 50s and beyond. One eye condition that needs to be watched for is macular degeneration. It can cause permanent vision loss. At Atlantic EyeCare in Virginia Beach, VA, our optometrist will monitor your eyes for macular degeneration and provide treatment. Here are some commonly asked questions about the condition.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration, occurs when the macula begins to break down. The macula is the central portion of the retina and regulates the clarity of your vision. The condition is most common in people who are over 50 years old. There are two types of macular degeneration, called wet and dry. The vast majority of people who get it have the wet version, which is caused by deposits forming under the macula. This can result in blind spots that can take over the field of vision over time.
Who Is at Risk for Macular Degeneration?
There are some risk factors for macular degeneration that can't be controlled, such as getting older, family history, and having light-colored eyes. Women are also more at risk, as well as those who were farsighted in their younger years. Poor nutrition, smoking, and high blood pressure will also increase the risk of this and other conditions.
Are There Early Signs of Macular Degeneration?
The first signs of macular degeneration are usually noticed by our optometrist before the patient notices vision changes. Developing hazy vision, a dark spot in the center of your vision, or noticing vision worsening overall may all be signs of macular degeneration. The condition is often diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam when the eyes are dilated.
How Does Vision Change with Macular Degeneration?
While some vision conditions affect peripheral vision, or side vision, macular degeneration affects the center part of vision. There may be dark or blurry blocks in the center of your line of vision. These blocks gradually take over a greater portion of vision until vision becomes blocked.
What Treatments Are Available for Macular Degeneration?
There is not a cure for macular degeneration, but our optometrist provides option to slow or stop its progression. Quitting smoking, getting blood pressure under control, and paying close attention to diet and overall health can help to slow the progression and help patients maintain their vision for longer. Other treatment options include:
- Age-related eye disease multivitamins, which include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, beta carotene, and copper
- Low vision treatment
- Laser and drug therapies designed to destroy abnormal blood vessels
- Anti-angiogenic drugs that help control the formation of new blood vessels, or blocking leaking in existing blood vessels
Schedule an Eye Exam with Our Optometrist
If you have risk factors or a family history of macular degeneration, it is important to stay on top of your vision care. At Atlantic EyeCare in Virginia Beach, VA, our optometrist tests for macular degeneration and will help you manage the disease. Call us today to schedule an appointment.