Macular Degeneration

Center for Advanced Eye Care

Ophthalmologist Surgeons located in Vero Beach, FL

If you’re over 65, you’re at risk of getting macular degeneration, which can lead to complete vision loss. At Center for Advanced Eye Care in Vero Beach, Florida, the team monitors the condition as it progresses and offers treatment for advanced cases with abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye. To schedule an eye exam with or without symptoms of macular degeneration, call the office or book your visit online today.

Macular Degeneration Q&A

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is a top cause of vision loss. The central part of your retina, responsible for crisp and detailed vision, is called the macula. Macular degeneration happens when the macula loses function. 

Center for Advanced Eye Care treats the two main types of macular degeneration:

Dry AMD

Dry macular degeneration is more common, but it isn’t as severe as the wet variety. It causes tiny, white deposits called drusen to appear on the macula as the tissues thin with age. 

Wet AMD

Wet macular degeneration is not as common but is more likely to lead to blindness. New blood vessels develop on the macula and can leak blood and fluid, which can permanently damage your vision.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration symptoms get worse with time as the disease progresses. At first, you might not notice any changes at all. A comprehensive eye exam at Center for Advanced Eye Care can still detect changes in your eye in these stages, even if you don’t report any symptoms.

Soon, your vision may noticeably decline. You might struggle to see color or fine details. Further, you might see shadowy areas in the center of your vision. As the disease progresses toward wet AMD, straight lines may appear wavy or otherwise distorted. 

Since symptoms show up gradually, it’s important to keep up with your regular eye exams and vision tests at Center for Advanced Eye Care. 

How is macular degeneration treated?

While macular degeneration doesn’t have a cure, improving your lifestyle by making healthy choices and nutritional decisions improves your chances of preserving your vision significantly. Improving your diet and monitoring the condition are your only options with dry AMD. 

The team at Center for Advanced Eye Care monitors your disease progression over time to decide if and when you need further treatment. They offer intraocular injections like Avastin®, Lucentis®, and Eylea® to slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels in your eye if you have wet AMD. These products can be highly effective if you get them monthly. 

Photodynamic therapy, another treatment option for wet AMD, also slows or controls blood vessel growth. Especially alongside nutritional supplements and a mineral-rich diet, your chances of retaining your vision greatly improve. 

To find out if or when you need treatment for macular degeneration, call Center for Advanced Eye Care or book an appointment online today. 

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?



Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition in older adults and the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65. Macular degeneration affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for the crisp, detailed vision needed for reading or driving. Macular degeneration can be classified as either wet (neovascular) or dry (non-neovascular).

Dry Macular Degeneration



Dry macular degeneration is the more common diagnosis and is considered to be an early stage of the disease. This type of disease usually develops as a result of aging and thinning of macular tissues and the depositing of pigment within the macula.

Wet Macular Degeneration



Only about 10% of patients see their condition progress to the more advanced wet macular degeneration. In wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels develop beneath the retina and cause a leakage of blood and fluid. This leakage can lead to permanent damages in the central vision and the creation of blind spots. Although less common, wet macular degeneration accounts for 90% of the blindness caused by all cases of this condition.

Symptoms



Patients with macular degeneration may notice gradual changes to their vision, including shadowy areas in the central vision, or fuzzy and distorted vision. These areas grow larger as the disease progresses, and can eventually turn into blind spots. Patients may also have difficulty seeing color and fine details.

If the disease progresses to the wet form, patients may also see straight lines as wavy. With wet macular degeneration, central vision loss can occur rapidly.

Your doctor may be able to detect early signs of macular degeneration before any symptoms occur, through a regular eye exam. Progression of this condition can be detected by testing your central vision with an Amsler grid. Regular eye exams are important in detecting macular degeneration and other serious eye conditions as early as possible, so that the risk of permanent vision loss can be minimized.

Causes & Risk Factors



The biggest risk factor for macular degeneration is aging. This disease can also be related to a genetic factor in a patient who have a gene variant known as complement factor H. Nearly half of the blinding cases of macular degeneration are linked to this genetic deficiency.

The biggest risk factor for macular degeneration is aging. This disease can also be related to a genetic factor in a patient who have a gene variant known as complement factor H. Nearly half of the blinding cases of macular degeneration are linked to this genetic deficiency.

Other factors that may increase your risk of macular degeneration include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heredity
  • High-fat diet
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • High blood pressure
  • Lighter eye color
  • Side effect of certain drugs

Patients can minimize their risk of macular degeneration by practicing a healthy, active lifestyle and getting regular eye exams. It is important for all patients to exercise regularly, avoid smoking, and eat a balanced diet that includes foods known to preserve vision and prevent eye diseases.

Treatment



While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are several treatment options available to help patients manage this condition and preserve their vision. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the severity and type of the condition, as well as how much, if any, permanent vision loss has occurred.

Intraocular injections of Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea are often successful in stopping abnormal blood vessel growth in wet macular degeneration. These medications are injected into the vitreous of the eye on a monthly basis to control the damaging effects of wet macular degeneration. Photodynamic therapy is also effective in removing newly developing abnormal blood vessels that are characteristic of wet macular degeneration. Many patients also benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements.

It is essential for patients with macular degeneration, wet or dry, to seek continuous medical treatment to manage their condition and prevent permanent vision loss from occurring. To learn more about our services, call us today to schedule an appointment.