Health problems can affect any part of our body, including our eyes. There’s a range of different conditions that can affect the health of our eyes and our vision, with one of the most common being macular degeneration. Also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, this condition is characterized by the gradual loss of central vision. This doesn’t cause blindness but does make many day-to-day activities like watching television, driving, and recognizing faces more difficult.
In. most cases, AMD develops very slowly. However, there is a specific type of macular degeneration, called ‘wet’ AMD, that although rare, can cause symptoms to appear quickly and requires prompt treatment to prevent permanent damage to your vision.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing a form of macular degeneration and should arrange an appointment with your eye doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
Distortion of straight lines in your field of vision
A reduction in central vision
The need for brighter lights
Difficulty adapting to low lighting
Difficulty reading, driving, or watching tv as things appear blurred
it becomes difficult to recognize faces
If your eye doctor suspects that you may be suffering from macular degeneration, you’ll need to undergo a number of tests that will be used to confirm the diagnosis. Some of the tests that may be used could include:
Visual field test: as you may have guessed from the name, this test is used to assess your field of vision. You’ll be asked to look at a grid of straight lines with a large dot in the center and will be asked if you can see any sections that appear wavy, blurred, or broken.
Dilated eye exam: this eye exam requires your eyes to be dilated so that your eye doctor can look inside them and examine the internal structures. Dilation is done by administering eye drops a short while before your examination.
Fluorescein angiography: This test is used to assess the blood vessels of the eye, and involves a special yellow dye called fluorescein being injected into a vein in your arm. This dye gets into the bloodstream and reaches the blood vessels in the eye, while a special camera is used to track it and take images, which will reveal if there is any leakage under the macula.
Optical coherence tomography: also known as an OCT test, this is a cutting-edge imaging technique that uses a machine to take detailed images of the back of the eye, including the retina and macula. The images are then used to assess the condition of the macula and your risk of many eye diseases, including macular degeneration.
Treatment for macular degeneration will vary depending on what type you are diagnosed with. Unfortunately, for the majority of people who are diagnosed with macular degeneration, there is no actual treatment available that can restore your vision to how it was before. Instead, patients are advised to start using vision aids that will help to limit the impact that living with AMD has on their lives. Some of the most common vision aids recommended include magnifying lenses, using brighter light bulbs, and downloading software and mobile apps that can make things like smartphones and computers easier for you to use. Your eye doctor will be happy to make recommendations as to which aids may benefit you the most.
Although wet macular degeneration is rare, if you are diagnosed with it you will need immediate treatment to prevent any permanent vision loss. This may involve regular injections of a type of medication known as Anti-VGEF’s. Following the application of anesthetic eye drops, these are administered directly into the eyes. Research has shown that anti-VGEF injections stop vision worsening in around 9 in 10 patients, and some of these patients may actually see their vision improving a little. Some patients may also be referred for a special light treatment known as photodynamic therapy, which is designed to destroy the abnormal blood vessels that cause wet AMD.
If you are concerned about macular degeneration and would like more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your worries and see if you are affected by this condition, please contact Sacramento Eye Consultants in Sacramento, CA or Lincoln, CA today at (916) 915-0300.