One of the most common eye disorders affecting older Americans is macular degeneration (MD). It is estimated that more than 13 million Americans suffer from macular degeneration, which is more people than both glaucoma and cataracts combined. Macular degeneration is also the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55, with a new case diagnosed every three minutes. The key to preventing macular degeneration is early detection. Optometrists encourage patients to get a comprehensive eye exam at least once per year. Through a comprehensive eye exam, they are able to detect any changes to the macula (the part of the retina found inside the back layer of the eye).
The majority of age-related macular degeneration cases are considered the “dry” form, for which there is, unfortunately, no cure or treatment. The other type of macular degeneration - wet macular degeneration - is far less common but can be treated with laser procedures and medication injections, as long as it is caught in its early stages.
At First Eye Care McKinney, it is our goal to educate our patients and do everything we can to help them achieve optimal vision health and wellness. We know just how important the eyes are to our daily lives, and we will do our part to help keep you disease-free.
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are a handful of symptoms associated with age-related macular degeneration that you should be aware of. Some of the earliest signs of this common eye condition are:
- Gradual loss of ability to focus on objects and see clearly
- Distorted shape of objects
- Straight lines appear crooked or wavy
- Loss of clear color vision
- Dark area in the center of vision
If you notice any of the above, there is a possibility you have macular degeneration. The only way to know for sure is by getting a comprehensive eye exam. Your optometrist will start by performing a complete eye exam, at which point will look for any signs of macular degeneration or any other issues with your eyes. While central vision loss that is associated with macular degeneration cannot be restored, there are numerous low-vision options - such as telescopic and microscopic lenses - that can maximize your remaining vision.
Macular degeneration can affect anyone, but the following risk factors may increase your chance of developing the disease:
- High-saturated fat diets
- Lack of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and lutein
- Lack of exercise
- Gene mutations or variations
- Presence of age-related macular degeneration in one eye
- Eye color (people with light-colored eyes are more likely to develop the dry type of macular degeneration)
- High blood pressure
- Prolonged sun exposure
To learn more about macular degeneration or to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, please contact First Eye Care McKinney today.