What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a condition that affects a part of the retina, which is located in the back of the eye and transmits our vision from the eyes to the brain. The Macula, located on the retina, gives us our central vision and is necessary for many daily activities such as reading and writing. When the macula begins to degenerate, we lose our central vision and have only peripheral vision, but have difficulty seeing directly in front of us.
Who does Macular Degeneration affect?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among Americans over the age of 65. This condition is referred to as age-related macular degeneration because it disproportionally affects people who are in their 60’s and above. Eye doctors and researchers have found that people with the following traits and lifestyles have a higher chance of developing macular degeneration:
- Age, as mentioned above. Individuals over the age of 65 pose the highest risk of developing macular degeneration
- Smoking is a major cause of macular degeneration in patients, and has been found to directly cause the condition. A British study found that living with a smoker also increases one’s chances of developing macular degeneration.
- Genetics are also a factor. Researchers have identified specific variants of genes that are found in many people with macular degeneration. Having someone in your family who has had macular degeneration could make you more likely to have it too.
- High blood pressure, or hypertension, is suspected to be related to macular degeneration according to a European study.
- Obesity and inactivity has also been found to be related to macular degeneration.
- Drug side effects sometimes have been linked to macular degeneration as well.
- Caucasians and females have been found to have the highest risk of developing macular degeneration.
- Light eye color is also related to developing macular degeneration. Among Caucasians, those who have lighter eye colors may have less protection from sun exposure in the eyes than those with darker colored eyes.
If you fit into any of the categories and are above the age of 60, we highly recommend you to schedule an appointment with our eye doctors to check for macular degeneration and other condition. You can fill out the form beside or call our Chicago office at (773-777-4444) today.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Typically, macular degeneration develops slowly and painlessly, which can often go unnoticed without regular eye exams. In some cases, it will happen acutely, and central vision will suddenly be gone. Some early signs of macular degeneration are as follows:
- Shadowy or fuzzy areas in the central field of vision (having trouble focusing on things directly in front of you).
- A totally dark or blind spot in the middle if your vision.
- Distortion of images in the middle of your vision (straight lines will appear crooked or bent).
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we suggest that you make an appointment with one of our eye doctors for an eye examination. You can fill out the form beside or call our Chicago office at (773-777-4444).
Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration, wet and dry, that affect patients’ vision. Dry macular degeneration is the most common form, with about 85%-90% of patients being diagnosed with this form. Wet macular degeneration is the more serious version of the disease, and can cause serious or total vision loss.
Dry Macular Degeneration
The most common form of macular degeneration, this is an early stage of this disease. This type of macular degeneration occurs when the macula, in the retina, slowly begins to break down and cause blurry vision. Eye doctors can diagnose this condition through the detection of yellowish spots around the macula. There are three stages of macular degeneration that patients will experience.
- Early macular degeneration – small yellow spots appear within the eye, but usually vision is not impaired.
- Intermediate macular degeneration – more yellow spots begin to appear on the macula, and vision may be blurred. Patients might begin to require more light and/or larger print when reading.
- Advanced macular degeneration – in addition to the yellow spots, the cells in the macula begin to break down and stop working all together. This usually causes a large blurry spot in the middle of vision, and eventually become a dark or blind spot as it progresses.
Eye doctors can detect these yellow spots on the macula very early in an eye exam, which is why it is important to get a regular eye exam, especially if you are in your 60’s or higher.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Though wet macular degeneration affects about 10% of all macular degeneration cases, it is the most damaging of the two types. With wet macular degeneration, new blood cells grow under the retina and macula, and they eventually begin to leak. Once these blood cells leak, they can cause permanent damage to the cells in the retina, and this creates blind spots in one’s central vision. Symptoms are typically acute, and vision loss happens rapidly.
If you detect a rapid loss of vision, contact an ophthalmologist immediately for treatment. Our eye doctors can recommend proper treatments to maintain as much of your vision as possible. Please schedule an appointment beside or call our Chicago office at (773-777-4444) today.
Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration
Our ophthalmologists are highly knowledgeable of the most current and effective techniques to treat macular degeneration. Treatment options include implantable telescopes, eye injections, and laser eye surgery. Depending on the type of macular degeneration that you have, and how far along the disease has progressed, our ophthalmologists will suggest an according treatment.
Please scheduled an appointment today with the form beside or call us at (773-777-4444) today to schedule an appointment at the Chicago Harlem office.