Posted on Nov 6, 2019 in Senior Health
Macular degeneration is an eye condition that directly affects your central vision. This is what you see when you’re looking straight ahead.
This progressive disease directly affects your retina, the thin layer at the back of the eyeball.
The retina is the camera of the eye. It’s the innermost part of the eye and responsible for receiving light and sending signals to the brain for visual identification.
The macula is the functional center of the retina. It’s responsible for the central color vision in high resolution possible in good light. This is the type of vision that’s impaired with macular degeneration.
With macular degeneration, the macula deteriorates and visual images in the center view will appear distorted, blurred, black and wavy.
While age-related macular degeneration is recognized as the leading cause of visual loss in the US, this disease doesn’t cause total blindness since it will only affect the center of your eye. Your peripheral vision is what you see from the sides when you’re looking ahead. This is not affected by this eye disorder.
Macular degeneration has no cure but the progression of this disease can be slowed down if discovered during its early stage.
We’ll look now at the different stages of this condition…
There are 3 stages of ARMD:
There is no vision loss at this stage and the disease can only be discovered through a routine eye check-up.
If the ophthalmologist notices small white or yellow deposits inside the macula, this is a strong indicator of early stage AMD. These deposits are known as drusen.
While the deposits do not directly cause macular degeneration, the presence of drusen increases your chance of developing the disease.
By the mid-stage, you can expect that mild vision loss will be experienced as more substantial drusen (deposits) beneath the retina.
There will also be changes in the retinal pigment epithelium. These are cells that help with retina health.
Although it’s not too alarming by itself, you should make sure you have regular eye check-ups since you’ll be at heightened risk of developing advanced stage AMD.
Central vision loss occurs at the late stages of age-related macular degeneration.
The macula is already damaged and no treatment can help prevent you from becoming partially blind.
Having explored the stages of AMD, we’ll now look at the different types of this progressive disease.
The 2 main types of macular degeneration are:
The most prevalent type of macular degeneration, dry AMD accounts for up to 90% of all cases.
Dry AMD takes effect gradually and the blood vessels inside the eyes do not leak.
Individuals over 65 are at heightened risk as the retina begins to thin over the years. As white or yellow deposits form beneath the macula, these waste materials formed by cholesterols, fats and proteins cause retinal damage leading to vision loss.
While the exact cause is unknown, there are certain risk factors including being over 65, having a family history of AMD, being overweight, smoking and having cardiovascular disease.
Here are some of the most common symptoms:
There is no known treatment for dry AMD.
Doctors suggest these following tips to slow down the progression of vision loss:
Also referred to as exudative AMD or neovascular AMD, this is a type of age-related macular degeneration that can cause severe vision loss.
This type of AMD causes blood vessels to develop under the macula. In turn, blood and fluid can leak.
Wet AMD occurs in perhaps 10 to 15% of all AMD cases. Wet AMD is characterized by a black spot in the middle of your vision caused mainly by a bleeding blood vessel or leaking fluid.
Symptoms come on rapidly and can include the following:
As with dry ADM, there is no cure for wet ADM either.
There are several treatments, though, that can help to improve vision…
Macular degeneration can create many difficulties in your day-to-day life…
If your sight starts to fail you, you’ll find it hard to drive, read and recognize faces or other images. While you’ll still be able to see out of the side of your eyes, you’ll start missing what is directly in front of you.
You might also experience stress, anxiety or depression as a direct result of your diminishing eyesight.
If vision decreases to a severe extent, you might even suffer from hallucinations. The brain sometimes ends up creating false images to compensate for being starved of visual data.
Book yourself in for an eye test at the first sign of any problems with your eyesight as you age.
If you’re worried about macular degeneration or you’re interested in an assisted living facility in Hobbs that can help when your eyesight starts to wear, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help out.