Macular Degeneration is a serious eye disease that can lead to central vision loss. It is the leading cause of blindness for those over 65. Though there is no cure at this time for Macular Degeneration, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to the preservation of sight.
Here at Ft. Lauderdale Eye Associates we have some of the most sophisticated instrumentation to help with early detection and effective monitoring.
Please read more about the Symptoms & Risk Factors Associated with AMD or visit your doctor in our Fort Lauderdale office to learn more about this.
Testing for both wet and dry macular degeneration may include:
- Visual Acuity.
A decrease in clarity or having missing parts of letters and pictures is one of the hallmarks of this disease; your visual acuity will be tested at both distance and near with the best possible prescription lenses
- Amsler Grid Chart.
Distorted or wavy lines are also one of the most common symptoms, a special chart, called an Amsler Grid, will be used to detect any areas of central distortion. You may also be given an Amsler Grid Chart to take home to monitor any future vision changes. Viewing this simple chart on a regular basis with each eye separately has proven very effective in monitoring vision changes.
- Dilated Retinal Exam.
At your comprehensive eye exam, through a dilated pupil, a careful inspection of the macular region of your retina will be done by the doctor. Often changes can be viewed by the doctor before the patient detects any problems
Should any abnormalities be found on any of these tests the following test may be recommended:
- Ocular Coherence Tomography to evaluate the vessel structure below the surface of the visible retina.
- Fluorescein Angiography to detect the number & pattern of leaking blood vessels
Though there is no cure at this time for either wet or dry macular degeneration, early detection is important to preserve as much vision as possible for both of these conditions.
Wet Macular Degeneration is less common and is considered more serious. However, there are some new treatments that are proving very effective in some cases. There are treatments aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth and retinal scarring. These include:
- Laser Treatments of the retina,
- New FDA-approved drugs, such as Lucentis and Avastin.
- A combination of drugs and laser treatment
Dry Macular Degeneration is by far the most common form, but there are no treatments that cure this disease, but the following have been shown to be valuable in slowing its progression:
Why they accepted by nutritionists and optometrist alike, eating carotenoid Rich vegetables like spinach or collard greens correlated to having a lower risk of AMD. These nutrients are not automatically produced by the body, and maintaining a healthy diet with the specials in mind are important for your overall health. Of course, we also recommend exercise and avoiding white sugars and rich, fatty foods to maintain complete body health as well.
Cessation of Smoking
Although most seniors have stopped smoking due to the countless studies confirming the dangers of cigarettes, for the few who continue to smoke, the risks of developing macular degeneration are nearly doubled if not higher for smokers compared to non-smokers. One study in the last decade confirmed that current or past smokers are at a 70% greater risk factor at developing macular degeneration simply from years of damage.
Some researchers or institutions argue that blue light and UV rays are linked to macular degeneration progression. As these types of studies produce further information about the benefits from sunglasses, UV protection includes other side benefits as well.
A major study conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) looked into the risk factors for developing macular degeneration and cataracts. The study, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), showed that high levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduce the risk of advanced dry AMD and its associated vision loss.
The AREDS study also indicated that taking high dose formulas containing beta-carotene, vitamins C and E and zinc can reduce the risk of early stage AMD progression by 25%. Should this treatment option be appropriate for you, we carry the highest quality, specially formulated vitamins in our office pharmacy.
If you have already suffered vision loss from macular degeneration, low vision devices including high magnification reading glasses and hand-held telescopes may help you achieve better vision than regular prescription eyewear.