Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision impairment in adults over the age of 60. The patient’s vision decreases as the macula deteriorates. Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, early diagnosis is key for mitigating its effects and successfully managing the condition. Our physicians at Key-Whitman Eye Center diagnose and treat macular degeneration.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a degenerative disease that affects a person’s eyesight through deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. The condition is often called “age-related” macular degeneration because it progresses as a person ages.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Early development of this disease often doesn’t exhibit any symptoms to the patient, but it can be damaging the vision slowly. Fortunately, this can be spotted during routine eye exams. That’s why it’s so important to have regular eye exams with the team at Key-Whitman Eye Center, especially as you get older.
The first sign most people notice is when straight lines appear distorted or wavy. Otherwise, a gradual or sudden change in vision quality could be the first symptom. These are the symptoms of macular degeneration:
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- The need for brighter light when reading or doing close work
- Difficulty adapting to low light situations, such as entering a dimly lit room
- Decreased intensity of colors
- Increased blurriness when seeing printed words
- Difficult recognizing faces
- The center of your vision may seem dark or blurry
“The office staff and doctors at Key-Whitman are perfectly coordinated with patient care. I am always impressed at the efficient and professional manner that I’m treated there.” – Kerrie W.
Types of Macular Degeneration
“Dry” macular degeneration is characterized by the presence of yellow deposits in the macula. These are called drusen. In early stages, a few small drusen don’t cause vision deterioration. But as they grow in numbers and size, these lead to dimming or distortion of vision that is most noticeable when reading. In atrophic dry macular degeneration, patients develop blind spots in the center of their vision; this advances to losing all central vision. Also in advanced stages of dry macular degeneration, there is a thinning of the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula, leading to tissue death atrophy.
The other form, known as “wet” macular degeneration accounts for only one in ten cases, but these people make up the majority of those who suffer serious vision loss. The wet form is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula. This is called choroidal neovascularization. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina. This distorts the person’s vision, as straight lines look wavy and blind spots develop. The bleeding of these abnormal blood vessels creates scar tissue that leads to permanent loss of the patient’s central vision.
When Should I Seek Treatment for Macular Degeneration?
While macular degeneration is not curable, its impact can be dramatically slowed by early intervention. That’s why it is important to not ignore any of the symptoms listed above. But even more important are regular eye exams, usually once every two years after you turn 50 and every year after your 60th birthday.
What Are the Treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration. Early treatment with the team at Key-Whitman Eye Center can slow the progress of the disease. There are more treatments to address the abnormal blood vessels with the wet form than the drusen of dry macular degeneration. Here are some treatment methods we may use:
- Anti-angiogenic drugs — For wet macular degeneration, we inject these drugs into the eye. They stop new blood vessels from forming and block the leakage from already existing abnormal vessels. In some patients, these injections can allow them to regain some vision that has been lost.
- Laser therapy — Lasers can destroy the actively growing abnormal blood vessels, also from the wet form. Also, photodynamic laser therapy uses a light-sensitive drug that is activated to damage the abnormal blood vessels.
- AREDS2 vitamins — Research from AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) shows some success in reducing the risk for vision loss in some patients with intermediate to advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.
- Low vision aids — Magnification can be a key to maintaining independence. Special lenses or electronic systems can magnify nearby objects, especially smaller type.
“Excellent customer service!!! Everything from the consult to the surgery was seamless. Altogether great experience, all ready life changing. Thanks everyone at Key-Whitman” – Brandon
Macular Degeneration Treatment Results
As mentioned, there is no cure for macular degeneration. The goal of our treatments at Key-Whitman is to slow the progress of the deterioration of the macula. This is especially true when blocking or destroying the abnormal blood vessels in wet macular degeneration. Every patient’s response to treatment is different.
What are the risks of Macular Degeneration Treatment?
There are risks of your macular degeneration not responding to treatment. Or, if it is slowed, then it can again begin to progress. There are possible reactions to the anti-angiogenic drugs. However, when considering that letting this disease progress means severe vision damage, any risk treating the condition seems worthwhile.
Schedule a consultation with our Dallas / Ft Worth Metroplex eye doctors.
Our doctors can identify macular degeneration during your annual eye exam. Early identification is key for successful treatment, so it’s important that you tend to your eye health by scheduling regular exams. For more information about diagnosing or treating macular degeneration, contact us at 214.220.3937 to schedule your eye exam at one of our 9 office locations.