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How Quickly Does Geographic Atrophy Progress?

Geographic atrophy is a chronic progressive degeneration of the macula where the cells in the retina waste away and die, or atrophy. The regions of the retina that begin to atrophy resemble a map to the ophthalmologist which presumably describes the term geographic atrophy. This condition occurs as part of the late stage of age-related macular degeneration affecting more than 5 million people worldwide. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects the back part of the eye called the macula. The macula is the area of the retina that is responsible for central vision. At only 5mm, the macula provides most of our color vision and the fine details of what we see. The macula contains a very high concentration of photoreceptor cells. These cells detect light that sends signals to the brain to interpret the images before us. The rest of the retina processes peripheral vision

The most common form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is known as Dry AMD. It is caused by small yellow deposits called drusen that from under the retina stopping nutrients from flowing to the retina causing the cells to die. The wet form of AMD involves abnormal growth of blood vessels to grow under the retina that begin to leak causing fluid build-up that leads to vision loss. Geographic atrophy is the advanced form of dry AMD that develops in the fovea, center of the macula, the clearest and most central part of vision. 

Geographic atrophy can have a devastating impact on vision. Geographic atrophy develops slowly and can take several years until signs and symptoms have progressed so greatly that it affects one or both eyes until central vision is lost and vision decreases to 20/200. Some of these vision changes include difficulty seeing in the center of the field of vision, numbers or letters missing when reading, a dim or dark spot in the center of vision, trouble seeing in dim light, extra light needed for reading, dull or washed-out colors, and blurred vision that is not as clear or sharp as it was previously. 

Diagnosis of geographic atrophy can be concluded by an ophthalmologist through a fundus photograph, optical coherence tomography, fluorescein angiography, and visual function tests. There are currently no treatment options for geographic trophy so early intervention for AMD is important. The best preventative measure is a comprehensive eye exam to monitor the health of your eyes and preserve quality vision.  

To schedule your eye exam at Associated Retina Consultants to diagnose any eye conditions including those related to AMD or geographic atrophy, contact our office at 602-242-4928 or visit us online at WEBSITE

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