Caused by the deterioration of the macula, macular degeneration impacts more than 10 million Americans. This makes macular degeneration the number one cause of vision loss in the United States. Scroll down to learn more about macular degeneration symptoms and treatment options.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is an extremely common eye disorder that causes central vision loss, meaning that it makes it difficult to see when you are looking straight ahead. While your peripheral vision, or side vision, isn’t affected, macular degeneration can cause near-total blindness if left untreated. In most cases, macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the macula, the tiny area in the center of your retina. Fortunately, macular degeneration symptoms can be slowed with early detection.
Dry vs. Wet Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration that occur over time:
- Dry Macular Degeneration: Dry macular degeneration typically involves yellow deposits, called drusen, that develop in the macula. These deposits can dim or distort your vision, making it hard to see details that are right in front of you. Ultimately, these deposits can wear away at the light-sensitive cells in your macula, gradually chipping away at your central vision.
- Wet Macular Degeneration: Patients with wet macular degeneration have blood vessels growing from underneath the macula. Over time, the blood vessels leak into the retina, which can dramatically distort and eventually eliminate central vision. Typically, wet macular degeneration symptoms are more severe than dry macular degeneration symptoms.
Dry Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Before you can treat macular degeneration, you need to know the symptoms. In most cases, you’ll be able to recognize several telltale dry macular degeneration symptoms:
- Straight lines that appear blurry or wavy
- Struggling to see details in your central vision, like faces or street signs
- Difficulty seeing at night or in low light
Wet Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Both dry and wet macular degeneration can lead to reduced central vision. But people with wet macular degeneration may experience several unique symptoms:
- A noticeable blurry spot in your central vision
- Symptoms that worsen very quickly
- Generally hazy vision
Depending on the severity of your macular degeneration, your doctor will choose one or more common treatment plans:
- Macula-Supporting Nutrition: If your doctor notices the early signs of macular degeneration, they may recommend nutritional therapy. This usually involves a diet high in antioxidants to support your macular health. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe vitamin or mineral supplements to support the cell structure of your eyes.
- Laser Photocoagulation: In a number of clinical trials, the Macular Photocoagulation Study Group enrolled patients in laser treatment specifically designed for macular degeneration. Overall, laser treatment reduced the risk of severe central vision loss. However, laser photocoagulation is growing less common with new developments in treatment.
- Anti-VEGF Therapy: Today, the most common clinical treatment for macular degeneration is anti-VEGF therapy. This involves regular injections of a chemical called an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (“anti-VEGF”). Over time, these injections help support the growth of new blood vessels in the eye.
There is currently no cure for macular degeneration, and it does get worse over time. However, your eye doctor can help catch the conditions in its early stages – which may be before you notice any symptoms at all. For best results, make sure to schedule regular eye exams to help prevent the worst symptoms of this extremely common eye condition.
Are you worried about macular degeneration symptoms? Play it safe, and book an appointment with your optometrist right away. If you live in southwest Missouri, contact Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online or send an email to [email protected]. Finally, you can give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!