Eye health is much more comprehensive of a topic than most people think. Beyond seeing an optometrist for periodic vision check-ups, it is imperative that adults of all ages, and even children, schedule more thorough evaluations of their eyes. An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist who examines all parts of the eyes to monitor health and risks of eye disease like age-related macular degeneration. This condition is the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 65. There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, so early detection and management are necessary. This means regular visits to the ophthalmologist are also a must for adults of all ages. Here, we discuss some helpful information about age-related macular degeneration.
What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?
This eye disease, often referred to as AMD, affects approximately 11 million adults in America. Age-related macular degeneration affects the central part of the retina, a piece of tissue called the macula, causing it to deteriorate. An intact macula is integral to good vision, so the deterioration of this part of the eye results in the gradual loss of vision. There are two types of AMD, dry and wet.
- Dry AMD involves the gradual thinning of the macula and drusen, small particles of waste, accumulate on the retina.
- Wet AMD involves the formation of weak blood vessels behind the retina, causing scarring and disruption to retinal function.
Generally, dry AMD occurs first. When it is treated properly, it may never progress to the wet type of AMD.
Symptoms of AMD
Age-related macular degeneration may cause vision to become blurry or wavy. Over time, central vision darkens and looks gray. It is advantageous to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a board-certified ophthalmologist at the first sign of these symptoms. Ideally, though, we like adults to come in every year or two, before they experience the symptoms of eye disease.
AMD cannot be cured, but an ophthalmologist can provide treatment that can slow the progression of vision loss. The doctor may approach AMD treatment in a number of different ways, always depending on the severity of the condition. Common treatments include:
- Ocular injections. This treatment may be necessary to reduce the size of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina. Injections do not hurt. The doctor first administers a numbing anesthetic to the eye.
- Laser surgery. A minor surgical procedure may be performed to seal off leaking blood vessels.
For more information on AMD, or to schedule your comprehensive ophthalmic exam, contact our Skokie, IL office at 847-677-2794.