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Macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss in elderly Americans, is a disease of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that captures images much like film in a camera.
The center of the retina, or macula, is responsible for precise vision. When the macula deteriorates, the center of your vision becomes blurry.
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are treatments that can slow its progression. The earlier it is detected, the better we can treat it.
University of Maryland Eye Associates has a team of retina specialists at locations throughout Maryland who are experts at diagnosing and treating macular degeneration. Call 667-214-1111 today to schedule an appointment.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Symptoms will vary and include:
- Changes in central vision
- Images that were once clear now appear blurred
- Dark spots appear and may enlarge
- Straight lines may appear as curves
- Colors may be less vivid or darker
Dry Macular Degeneration
In the dry type of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), drusen, which are fatty lipid deposits, form under the retina. With time, this can cause thinning of the overlying retina, causing those corresponding areas in your vision not to see as well. In some cases, this dry form can convert to wet macular degeneration.
Dry AMD Treatment
Currently there are no treatments that can reverse dry macular degeneration. However, for intermediate and advanced AMD, you can take specially formulated vitamins based on the clinical evidence from the National Eye Institute's Age-Related Eye Disease Studies 2 (AREDS2), which can reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD as well as the risk of severe vision loss by 20 to 25 percent. A dilated eye examination by a retina specialist will determine what stage of AMD you have and whether these vitamins may benefit you.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration may develop after the dry form. Abnormal vessels develop under the retina and these vessels can leak fluid and bleed. If untreated, vision loss can progress quickly.
Wet AMD Treatment
One common treatment for wet macular degeneration is injections of a type of medicine called VEGF inhibitors. This class of medications can stop the buildup of fluid, swelling and bleeding, and in some patients, can reverse vision loss. These can be given as often as once a month or can be given less often, based on your doctor’s evaluation.
Who is at risk?
The cause of macular degeneration is not clear, but research indicates that family history, race (Caucasians are more susceptible), lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, and aging all play a role.
How do I know if I have macular degeneration?
We recommend that all adults, especially over the age of 50, be examined at least yearly with a dilated eye examination. During your eye exam, your doctor will be able to detect macular degeneration, as well as a number of other conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. We will dilate your pupils in order to see the retina, which is located in the back of your eye. We may also use a visual test, called an Amsler grid, to test for problems in the center of your vision.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent progression of AMD:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Alter your diet to include more salmon, sardines and other fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids; nuts; and kale, spinach and other dark leafy greens
Make an Appointment
To make an appointment with a retina specialist, call 667-214-1111.
Lisa S. Schocket, MD
Interim Chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Kenneth J. Taubenslag, MD, MPhil
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences