Diagnosing & Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Are you having trouble identifying faces or reading sentences on a page? Age-related macular degeneration is an eye condition that can make typical daily activities difficult. If you notice that your vision is getting fuzzy or blurry, or that your eyes have become super sensitive to light, you need to see your eye doctor.


Blurry vision is a key sign of age-related macular degeneration, and your eye doctor can diagnose and treat it in its early stages.


Do You Know What Age-Related Macular Degeneration Is?


This is an eye illness that causes blindness. The disease blurs the sharp, middle part of your eyesight that helps your eyes focus when doing activities like driving or reading. It is the primary reason behind severe and lasting vision loss in people above 50 years of age.


This condition manifests in two types of AMD – dry and wet AMD. With dry AMD, you lose your central vision but retain your peripheral vision. On the other hand, wet AMD causes blood vessels to grow and leak fluid into your central vision, causing a blind spot in your field of sight. You are at a higher risk of AMD if you are above 50 years, are Caucasian, are a woman, are a smoker, have heart disease, or high blood pressure.


How Is AMD Diagnosed?


Your eye doctor will examine your sight and also your retina to check for AMD if you are showing symptoms. He or she will check for small yellow deposits, known as drusen, below your retina. The yellow deposit is usually an early indication of the illness.


Your doctor may also ask you to observe a pattern of straight lines in a grid. If the straight lines seem wavy to you, you could be having macular degeneration. If your eye doctor thinks you have AMD, he or she may ask you to take one or both of the following tests:


  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): OCT is a special scan that will show pictures of your retina. This way, your doctor can see whether your retina is damaged or if swelling from an earlier treatment is becoming better or worsening.

  • Fluorescein angiography: In this test, your doctor will inject a dye into your arm and follow it as it gets to your eye and moves through the retinal blood vessels. The pictures will show vessels that are leaking blood or fluid into your central vision or macula.


How Is AMD Treated?


Currently, there is no treatment method for dry AMD. However, if your doctor diagnoses you with dry AMD, he or she will recommend minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional supplements that could benefit you. Likewise, eating eye-healthy meals such as leafy greens, fish, and yellow fruits and veggies, may help ease dry AMD symptoms.


For wet AMD, your doctor might prescribe anti-VEGF medications that reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels and slow any leakage from the vessels into your eye. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend laser surgery, which doctors use to treat some kinds of wet AMD. Laser treatment also decreases the number of irregular blood vessels and reduces their leaking.


Learn more about diagnosing and treating age-related macular degeneration, visit North Shore Eye Health & Wellness in Cedarburg, WI at (262) 421-4412.

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