What Happens When You Have Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is a common cause of blindness and vision problems among older people. 

AMD damages the macula, the part of the eye that is responsible for seeing sharp details directly in the center of the field of vision. Damage caused by AMD can interfere with:

  • The ability to see straight ahead – this is necessary for driving and viewing distances, such as when recognizing faces or watching television.
  • Fine, detailed vision – This is necessary for reading, sewing, working with crafts and making repairs.

Most people with macular degeneration have fluffy, yellow-white spots on the macula. These spots are called drusen. 

There are two forms of AMD:

  • Dry AMD: The vast majority of people who lose significant vision from AMD have dry AMD. In dry AMD, the cells of the macula slowly break down. This produces blurring then blank spots in the eye’s central vision. The symptoms are subtle at first then become more noticeable over time. 
  • Wet AMD: In wet AMD, delicate new blood vessels begin to grow beneath the retina. They leak blood and fluid into the macula, causing scarring. Wet AMD can cause rapid loss of vision over days to weeks and continued loss of vision over time. Wet AMD is much less common than the dry form but it generally progresses much more rapidly and is therefore more serious. 

Causes

  • Age is the most important risk factor for AMD
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Caucasian race  
  • Female gender
  • Family history of macular degeneration
  • Diet low in fruit and vegetables
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol

People who have known risk factors for macular degeneration do not always get the disease. On the other hand, many who get the condition have none of the risk factors mentioned above. People over age 60 are at the highest risk, and should get an eye exam annually.

It is important to have your eyes checked regularly. In Phoenix, our doctors treats patients who have macular degeneration and other vision problems. People who think they may be at risk for macular degeneration should discuss this concern with our doctors. He may suggest ways to reduce the risk and can plan an appropriate schedule for checkups. 

To schedule your vision checkup or if you have concerns about macular degeneration and it’s causes, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or website today.

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