Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50. The optometrists at Valley Eye Professionals can detect the early signs of macular degeneration during comprehensive eye exams, then start preventive treatment before you develop symptoms such as vision loss. If you notice a change in vision, call the office in the Studio City area of Los Angeles or book an appointment online.
Macular degeneration develops in an area near the center of your retina called the macula. The macula contains light-sensing cells that are responsible for sharp, central vision (the ability to see things straight ahead).
There are two types of macular degeneration:
About 80% of patients with macular degeneration have the dry form. It develops over time, as the macula gets thinner and drusen develop.
Drusen are tiny clumps of protein and fat that accumulate under the retina. As drusen gradually enlarge, cells in the macula are damaged, and you may begin to lose central vision.
Wet macular degeneration develops as abnormal blood vessels grow behind the retina. These new blood vessels are fragile, so they leak blood and fluids. As the excess fluids cause swelling, the macula is damaged.
Although wet macular degeneration is less common than the dry form, it’s more serious because you can lose vision faster.
You won’t have symptoms in the early stages of macular degeneration. As drusen grow or as fluids accumulate, you may experience:
As you lose central vision, you’ll begin to see a darkened shadow in the middle of your visual field that makes it hard to recognize faces or read.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive imaging procedure that uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of your retina. OCT gives your optometrist a view of the retina’s layers, which is the best way to determine the size of drusen or evaluate leaking blood vessels.
There currently aren’t any treatments for dry macular degeneration. However, taking a therapeutic dose of eye vitamins may prevent or delay disease progression.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is associated with a higher risk of developing macular degeneration. Wearing eyewear that provides UV protection may prevent the disease or stop existing macular degeneration from worsening.
Your optometrist may recommend one of several treatments for wet macular degeneration that either stops bleeding from existing abnormal blood vessels or prevents the growth of new vessels.
If you’re overdue for an eye exam or you’ve already noticed changes in your vision, schedule an appointment with online booking or by calling Valley Eye Professionals.