A Q&A About Macular Degeneration
Q: What is macular degeneration?
A: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a chronic disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. This vision loss is cause by a deterioration of the macula which is the center of your retina responsible for detailed vision.
Q: Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?
A: The risk increases with age, family history, sun exposure, smoking and vascular disorders such as high blood pressure. Macular degeneration is also more prevalent in whites and women.
Q: What is Dry AMD?
A: Dry AMD happens when the tissue thins and stops functioning. It is usually more slowly progressive and functional vision is maintained.
Q: What is Wet AMD?
A: Wet AMD occurs when fluid leaks from newly formed blood vessels under the macula. Vision loss can be rapid and severe.
Q: The earlier macular degeneration is detected and the earlier the disease is treated, the better the outcome. What are some early warning signs people should look for?
A: Early signs may include loss of clear color vision, gradual loss of the ability to see things clearly, and a diming of vision when reading. Signs at any stage could include dark spots in vision, objects appearing distorted in shape or straight lines looking wavy or crooked. If you experience any of these symptoms you should schedule an eye exam in Lafayette immediately.
Q: There has been talk about the link between certain vitamins and minerals and the prevention of macular degeneration. Which nutrients should we be consuming (if any), and in what forms?
A: Diets favoring low fat and dark green leafy vegetables may help slow the progression of AMD. Some of the important vitamins and minerals recommended after the release of results of the AREDS 2 study* are lutein, zeaxanthin, copper, zinc, vitamins E and C. (Talk to your eye doctor in Lafayette about the recommended daily intake for each.)
*The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was a clinical study designed to determine if daily intake of certain vitamins and minerals could reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Q: What are some treatment/management options for macular degeneration?
A: Nutrition supplements may help to slow the progression of Dry AMD as mentioned earlier and certain injections and or laser treatments are available options for Wet AMD. Protection from ultraviolet light and smoking cessation are also important in managing any stage of macular degeneration.
Q: What are the most common misconceptions that people have about macular degeneration?
A: There is no automatic progression to blindness. Macular degeneration only affects the central vision so even in severe cases a person can still retain great peripheral vision.
Q: Is there a cure?
A: There is no cure for macular degeneration. If the vision does become decreased due to macular degeneration there are low vision devices that can help. Telescopic and microscopic devices, illuminated magnifiers and closed circuit TV systems are among the many options available for low vision.