Macular Degeneration: Can I prevent it?

Macular Degeneration: Can I prevent it?

As dry AMD progresses, patients perceive a dark spot obscuring the center of their vision. (Image: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health)

Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It is THE leading cause of blindness in Caucasians over the age of 40. Macular Degeneration, or AMD, is caused by degredation of the macula, the small area in the back of our eyes responsible for all of our central vision. This region holds millions of photosensitive cells that carry light and vision information to our brain for interpretation. Damage can cause blurred, distorted or wavy lines and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Dry Macular Degeneration refers to deposits in the macula without bleeding or vessel formation. Dry AMD can still cause severe vision loss, but typically occurs at a much slower rate and to a lesser degree than Wet AMD. Wet Macular Degeneration is characterized by a network of blood vessels forming under the macula that can bleed and cause rapid vision loss. This is typically irreversible and requires immediate evaluation and likely injections to halt progression.

Can AMD be Prevented?



Until recently, there were no studies that proved early intervention could prevent the formation of early Macular Degeneration. Recently, studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight, consuming plenty of antioxidants found in green leafy veggies, carrots, and berries, and excercising regularly can, indeed, help prevent and even reverse mild deposits (drusen) in the macula.

Can I be tested for Macular Degeneration?



Yes! There are multiple in-office tests available to determine if you have risk factors or physical signs of AMD. Fundus Photos are performed during your Comprehensive Exam to look at the surface of the back of your eye. This can show clinical signs of macular change. Scans of the retinal can show sub-clinical elevation and signs of oxidative stress within the retinal tissues even before we see deposits in the back of the eye.

New Testing for Macular Degeneration:



Maculogix is a headset used in office to simulate how quickly a person's eyes adapt to darkness. Dark Adaptation is decreased in those with AMD and can effect a person's ability to see at night even before clinical signs of AMD are detectable in the retina. Maculogix is 91% sensitive for detecting those who have signs of AMD and 91% specific for identifying those who don't. Furthermore, it can detect changes up to 3 years before clinical macular changes are noticeable.

Genetics:



Macular degeneration has a hereditary component and those will severe vision loss are more likely to pass on the gene. If you have a parent or sibling with known vision loss, it is important to have regular eye exams to monitor the health of your eyes. Early intervention is critical to prevent worsening of the condition and preventing irreversible vision loss.

If you have any questions, be sure to ask one of our doctors about the diagnostic testing our office provides to detect and monitor Age-Related Macula Degeneration!

Macular Degeneration is an age-related eye condition that continues to impair a huge number of individuals in the world. Vision loss is permanent and often progressive if not diagnosed early. Early intervention and lifestyle changes are a big factor in preventing progression of this blinding disease.