This disease is considered the leading cause of blindness, affecting more individuals than cataracts or glaucoma. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, a part of the retina, is damaged. This area of the retina is responsible for allowing you to see the small details necessary for daily activities such as driving or reading. It typically does not affect your peripheral vision—allowing you to still see the outlines of objects.
Types of age-related macular degeneration
There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration: Dry (atrophic) and Wet (exudative).
The dry form is most common, and vision loss with this type is gradual. The wet form is more rare, responsible for 10% of AMD cases. Vision loss can occur much more rapidly with wet AMD.
What causes macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration can occur as a part of the natural aging process. While there are different types of macular degeneration, the most common type is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The exact cause still remains unknown, and no treatment has been found as of yet that is 100% effective.
Different people can have different symptoms, and some may not experience obvious symptoms in the early stages. The most common include:
Words appearing blurred
An “empty” area forming in the center of one’s vision
Straight lines begin to look distorted
Many individuals don’t realize they have macular degeneration until blurred vision occurs. At Quigley Eye Specialists, we can help you detect early stages of AMD during your medical eye examination. This could include:
A vision test where you look at what’s called an Amsler grid that looks like graph paper
Using a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope to view the macula
Taking photographs of the eye to find abnormal blood vessels behind the retina
Living with low vision
At Quigley Eye Specialists, we can help you adapt to lower vision levels by prescribing optical devices or even refer you to a low-vision center or specialist. Many support services and programs are available to help you maintain a satisfying quality of life, even with reduced vision. Often, individuals can continue to participate in their favorite activities by using low-visions optical devices, including magnifying devices.
What happens if you’ve been diagnosed?
If you’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration, your optometric physician will refer you to one of our retina specialists. Your retina specialist will evaluate your condition to determine the best treatment plan for you.