Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans. Progression of the disease is slow and painless, but you may start to notice a loss of vision and the ability to see fine details. Regular visits to an expert optometrist, such as Dr. Frank Akers II, can help with early diagnosis and management of macular degeneration. If you live in Mesa, Arizona, or the surrounding area, call Akers Eyecare Center or use the online booking agent to make an appointment. Having an exam to check your vision will determine if you’re at risk for this vision-endangering disease.
The retina is the inside back layer of the eye, and the central portion of it is called the macula. When the macula deteriorates, you develop macular degeneration. The macula is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, which controls your ability to read, recognize faces, see colors, view objects in detail, and drive a car safely.
Macular degeneration often occurs due to the simple process of aging, but it also seems to have a genetic component. People with a lighter eye color, those who are obese, smokers, and people who have taken specific drugs are also often at greater risk.
Two types of macular degeneration are possible: wet and dry. In wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels form under and into the macular portion of the retina. These new blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the eye and interfere with the retina. In dry macular degeneration, deposits form under the macula that causes it to become thin and dry.
The symptoms of macular degeneration are not painful and usually occur gradually, so you might not even notice them. Blurred vision, such as when looking at faces or text, may occur. You may have a small gray spot in the middle of your field of vision. As macular degeneration progresses, so do these vision changes -- making driving, reading, and dim-light vision difficult.
Macular degeneration cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Progression can also be slowed. Dr. Akers may prescribe specific medications to help stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels that cause wet macular degeneration. Good nutrition that includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish can be a positive way to deter the development and progression of macular degeneration.
Dr. Akers can also help by providing corrective eyewear. Complete resolution of the vision loss associated with macular degeneration is usually not possible. Keeping up with your eye health, however, helps slow its progression and helps you deal with any complications of diminished vision when it occurs.
If your vision blurs or you have trouble seeing details, consult Dr. Akers for an evaluation for macular degeneration.