When the Center of Your Vision Deteriorates

Macular Degeneration Portland ORMacular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. Many people don’t know much about it because age-related macular degeneration doesn’t cause complete vision loss. But what it destroys is the patient’s central vision, leaving just the peripheral vision. Not many people would be happy with a blind spot in the center of their vision.

Here’s some more information on macular degeneration, and why regular eye exams with the team at The Eye Clinic are so important to spot any signs of the eye disease early on before it begins damaging your vision.

What are the types of macular degeneration?

There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration:

  • Dry form— By far the most common, the “dry” form of macular degeneration is characterized by the presence of yellow deposits in the macula. These are called drusen. In early stages, a few small drusen don’t cause vision deterioration. But as they grow in numbers and size, these lead to dimming or distortion of vision that is most noticeable when reading. In atrophic dry macular degeneration, patients develop blind spots in the center of their vision; this advances to losing all central vision.
  • Wet form— Only about 10 percent of people develop the “wet” form of macular degeneration, but these people make up the majority of those who suffer serious vision loss. The wet form is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula. This is called choroidal neovascularization. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina. This distorts the person’s vision, as straight lines look wavy and blind spots develop. The bleeding of these abnormal blood vessels creates scar tissue that leads to permanent loss of the patient’s central vision.

What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration?

One of the worst things about macular degeneration is that in the early stages you may not experience any symptoms, but your vision is being damaged just the same. The first sign you may notice is when straight lines appear distorted or in the quality of your vision suddenly begins to change.

These are the symptoms:

  • Visual distortions, such as straight lines seeming bent
  • Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
  • The need for brighter light when reading or doing close work
  • Difficulty adapting to low light situations, such as entering a dimly lit room
  • Decreased intensity of colors
  • Increased blurriness when seeing printed words
  • Difficult recognizing faces

What are the treatments for age-related macular degeneration?

There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but treatment with the team at The Eye Clinic can slow the progress of the disease. There tend to be more treatments to address the abnormal blood vessels with the wet form than the drusen of dry macular degeneration.

Here are some treatment methods Drs. Wilkins, Donohue, and Samples may use:

  • Anti-angiogenic drugs— For wet macular degeneration, injections of these drugs are made into the eye. They stop new blood vessels from forming and block the leakage from already existing abnormal vessels. In some patients, these injections can allow them to regain some vision that has been lost.
  • Laser therapy— Lasers can be used to destroy the actively growing abnormal blood vessels, also from the wet form. Also, photodynamic laser therapy uses a light-sensitive drug that is activated to damage the abnormal blood vessels.
  • AREDS2 vitamins— Research from AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) has shown some success in reducing the risk for vision loss in some patients with intermediate to advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.
  • Low vision aids— Magnification can be a key to maintaining independence. Special lenses or electronic systems can magnify nearby objects, especially smaller type.

Is it time for your regular eye exam at The Eye Clinic? Maintaining regular checkups is key to the long-term health of your eyes. Call us at (503) 297-4718 to make your appointment.

Posted in: Macular Degeneration

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