14 Feb 5 Facts About Macular Degeneration
Do you always find that the centre of your field of vision appears blurry? Perhaps you struggle with identifying faces, or properly identifying shapes or colours. If this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from macular degeneration: an eye condition that deteriorates your central vision, preventing you from seeing properly. For more information on this eye condition, continue reading.
1. Related To Genetics
Macular degeneration is not a disease that will affect everyone. In fact, it often develops because of one’s genetics being passed down from a previous generation. There have been over 30 genes identified as being risk factors for this eye disorder. While having a family history of macular degeneration does not guarantee that you will develop the condition, you should keep an eye out for its warning signs… if your parents or grandparents suffer from it, you are three to four times more likely to develop the condition.
2. Early Warning Signs
As macular degeneration can become quite serious, it is important to be aware of its early warning signs to seek timely treatment. You may notice, for example, that you need more light while reading, especially in low-light conditions. Or it may present as your central vision appearing dark or “whited out” in a specific location. You may also notice that your vision has become blurrier in general. If you notice that you are suffering from any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your optometrist immediately. While some symptoms may be related to a less serious eye condition, only your eye doctor will be able to fully diagnose your eye disorder and set you on a proper course of treatment.
3. Often Age-Related
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that generally affects those over 50 years of age. This is because sometimes as the eyes age, tissues in the macula start to thin. This thinning causes a loss of cells that are essential for vision, leading to a decreased vision in the affected part of the eye. However, just because you are under 50 does not mean you shouldn’t be wary of early symptoms! Macular degeneration has been known to affect those under 50, and can even affect children, known as Juvenile Macular Degeneration, or Stargardt Disease.
4. Two Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two different types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.
Dry macular degeneration appears first and begins to slowly progress over time. It is characterized by the presence of small deposits within the retina, known as drusen. As the drusen grow and multiply, they can begin to affect the vision, causing a dimming or distortion. In advanced dry macular degeneration, the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula can atrophy, causing the development of blind spots. In some cases, it may not be noticeable without an eye examination… until it becomes more advanced.
When dry macular degeneration is left undetected, it will likely progress into wet macular degeneration, a serious condition that can escalate rapidly. Wet macular degeneration causes the growth of small, abnormal blood vessels to grow within the eye, which leak blood or fluid into the macula, leading to hemorrhage or swelling. The onset of it can be sudden, causing severe damage to vision within days, and being accompanied by sudden loss of vision.
5. Detection And Prevention Is Key
Macular degeneration is not curable, and so it is important that it is detected early to prevent further vision deterioration. Unfortunately, symptoms such as blurry vision or trouble with close work can be confused with other, less serious, conditions. It is important to visit your eye doctor regularly to ensure early detection of this disease.
Currently, there is no course of treatment for early onset dry macular degeneration, but preventative measures can be used to slow the disease. Adapting the lifestyle to include exercising, avoiding smoking, and eating a nutritious diet like leafy greens and fish can help to slow the disease’s progression.
While not curable, wet macular degeneration can be treated. It can be treated with an anti-VEGF injection, which prevents the growth of additional abnormal blood vessels, and could allow a patient to regain some of their vision. The second course of treatment is Photodynamic therapy, which involves a precise laser treatment on the abnormal blood vessels. Laser surgery is another method that is sometimes used for treatment of wet macular degeneration and is more commonly used when blood vessel growth is limited to a compact area that can be targeted, as well as when it is not located near the centre of the macula. This course of treatment will leave a scar, resulting in a blind spot on one’s field of vision.
If you suspect a Macular Degeneration diagnosis or have any other eye or vision concerns, it is important to see your optometrist. Many people do not visit the optometrist until the condition has progressed, and they may have already permanently lost some of their vision. If you feel you may have experienced a deterioration in your vision, contact the experts at Dr D’Orio eyecare. To book an appointment at Dr D’Orio Eyecare, visit https://drdorioeyecare.com/book-appointment/ or call us at 416 656 2020 for our Toronto location, or 416 661 5555 for our North York location.