What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is an eye condition that causes a breakdown of the macula, which is the center portion of your eye and located in the retina. The macula is the portion of the eye that helps give clarity to objects you see, which helps to identify objects and recognize faces.
With macular degeneration, the macula progressively deteriorates, leading to an inability to properly process images. It can lead to partial or complete blindness if left untreated.
Age-related macular degeneration is the most common type of macular degeneration, and is most common for adults over the age of 55. There may not be any signs you have macular degeneration until you have vision loss, so early detection during regular eye exams is invaluable.
What causes macular degeneration?
There are two main types of macular degeneration: Dry and wet. These are each characterized by their main, underlying causes.
Dry macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the most common type and is caused by broken down macular tissues collecting on the macula. This causes the macula to dry and thin out and may lead to the second type of macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration
The wet type of macular degeneration is less common and more serious. It is caused by blood vessels which have grown into the wrong area of the eye. These vessels bulge and bleed, and can damage the retina, causing blind spots in your vision.
During a regular eye exam, Dr. Smith or Dr. Gdowski look for early signs of macular degeneration and create a treatment plan to prevent progression of this disorder if needed.
What are symptoms of macular degeneration?
Like many eye problems, macular degeneration does not cause pain and may not show any signs until you already have some degree of vision loss. Symptoms may include dark or blind spots in your vision.
It can be caught early, when your eye doctor identifies changes to your eyes, such as:
- Broken down tissue on your macula
- Changes to your macula
- Damage or injury to the retina
- Growth of blood vessels
- Bleeding or enlarged blood vessels
If Dr. Smith or Dr. Gdowski suspects you have macular degeneration, they may order specialized testing to give a proper diagnosis. There is no definitive treatment for dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration treatments involve injections and possibly vitamin and mineral supplements.
For an evaluation of your eyes and to check for signs of macular degeneration, call 616-457-0760 or request an appointment with Lifetime Eyecare.