Macular Degeneration Treatment in Long Island
According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss amongst Americans. No other disease has robbed as many Americans of their healthy vision — AMD has affected more people than cataracts and glaucoma combined. The TOC Eye® team understands how serious the effects of macular degeneration can be. Although there is currently no cure, we are committed to catching the disease in its early stages and doing what we can to stop its progression before it is too late.
Causes and Symptoms
As the name suggests, macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, or the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision. The macula is what allows you to read, recognize a face or perform tasks like sewing. Macular degeneration occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden; without the proper nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss.
Macular degeneration causes symptoms such as:
- Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- Gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted or blurry vision
- Dark or empty spot in the center of vision
Macular degeneration does not cause total blindness because it doesn’t affect the peripheral vision. However, the loss of central vision substantially impacts daily life.
Age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration. The disease is most common in people age 55 and older. Older adults are encouraged to have regular eye exams to check for signs of the disease.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Approximately 10 to 15 percent of people with macular degeneration have the wet type, which means that new blood vessels grow into the retina as the eye attempts to compensate for the blocked arteries. These new vessels are very fragile and often leak blood and fluid between the layers of the retina. This leakage distorts vision and, when the blood dries, scar tissue forms on the retina. This creates a dark spot in the patient’s vision.
Approximately 85 to 90 percent of all people with macular degeneration have the dry type and do not experience new blood vessel growth. They may have symptoms such as a thinning of the retina, loss of retinal pigment and the formation of small, round particles in the retina called drusen. Vision loss with dry macular degeneration occurs slower and is less severe than with wet macular degeneration.
Diagnosing the Disease
Macular degeneration requires a medical diagnosis from an eye doctor. It can be detected during a routine eye exam. One of the most common indications of macular degeneration is drusen that appear under the retina. If the doctor detects signs of macular degeneration, a chart known as an Amsler grid may be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Understanding Your Treatment Options
There is no known cure for dry macular degeneration, but there are a ways for Long Island patients to manage it. Making healthy lifestyle changes (e.g., quitting smoking, exercising regularly) can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and possibly slow its progression. Experts have found that certain nutrient supplements — vitamin C and vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin — may also be responsible for lowering the risk of the disease and slowing its progression. These nutrients can be found in dark, leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables. Learn more about how nutrition can affect eye health.
We can treat the wet type of macular degeneration in a few different ways. For example, certain medications are designed to reduce or stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. Lasers can also be used to destroy abnormal blood vessels and prevent them from leaking, bleeding and growing.
Contact TOC Eye® Today
If you are having troubling visual symptoms that could be caused by age-related macular degeneration, request a consultation and eye examination done by our eye doctors at TOC Eye®. Long Island patients can call us at 631-751-2020 to make an appointment.