Why and How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision 0
Why and How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects vision because the macula is part of the retina of the eye. The macula is located behind the lens on the back of the eyeball and helps images get to the optic nerve so they can be interpreted by the brain. The macula has the specific purpose of focusing fine details and enables people to read, drive, and see things like facial expressions.
So when the macula starts to break down and become dysfunctional, the central field of vision also suffers, though it leaves peripheral vision intact. This often causes confusion for those who are close to the person with macular degeneration because their eyes still look normal from the outside, so people don’t know why so much is missed by the one with AMD. At its worst form, what a person with AMD sees is almost like those scratcher cards that haven’t been scratched off yet — a blank circle covering the center area of where they look. Before that, the central vision may be distorted or partially “scratched.”
People with AMD are not blind, but they don’t have a full range of vision either. They are somewhere in between – as the former National Association for Visually Handicapped’s founding director, Dr. Lorraine Marchi, coined the phrase for AMD as being “hard of seeing.” A loved-one with AMD may not see the eyes of the person they are looking at, but they can usually see the general shape of the face. Since they know where the eyes are generally located, they can look at the eyes without seeing them.
In America, AMD — usually in the form of age-related macular degeneration— is the leading cause of vision loss for those who are over the age of 60. Studies show that exposure to UV rays, obesity, and smoking may increase the risk of AMD, and it seems to be more prevalent in Caucasians than in African-Americans. It has hereditary links and is also more common among women than men. Though there are two forms of AMD (wet and dry), 90% of those suffering from AMD have the dry, less severe form.
No cure has been found yet for AMD. With early detection, there are treatments that slow the progress of the disease, extending full vision longer. Have you been diagnosed with macular degeneration?
Dr. Travis Zigler
SOURCES: http://www.visionaware.org/info/your-eye-condition/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/how-does-amd-affect-vision/125 http://www.vistaeyecare.net/your-eye-health/eye-diseases/macular-degeneration/
- Dr. Travis Zigler
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How Does Macular Degeneration Lead to Blindness? 0
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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Age-Related Macular Degeneration 0
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is damage that occurs to the macula which is located in the back of the eye, directly at the line of sight. The macula is the part of the eye that is responsible for sharp central vision, which enables a person to pinpoint objects and recognize faces. This deterioration occurs from older age in many individuals, as the name suggests.
There are two types of AMD. The first type is dry AMD, which is characterized by a breakdown of the macular tissues which causes a buildup to form underneath the retinal layers, called drusen. If the yellow deposits of drusen increase in size, then the tissue at the back of the eye may be cut off from its blood supply. If this occurs, new blood vessels form and tend to leak. This leads to the second type of macular degeneration, which is wet or exudative AMD. Both of these types of macular degeneration can lead to devastating loss of vision.
AMD is preventative by eating approximately 2.5-5 cups of leafy, green vegetables a day which boost antioxidants and help fight free radicals that take part in the age-related breakdown of the macula. Wearing proper UV protection, a healthy exercise regimen, and not smoking may also decrease the risk of AMD. In fact, smoking increased your AMD risk by over four times!
There are vitamin supplements that are available which have antioxidants in them, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, that have been shown to help filter oxidative chemicals and harmful blue light causing damage to the macula. However, it is important to consult with an eye doctor before beginning any new eye vitamins. Our Ocular Health Formula from Eye Love is used daily with our patients and is definitely approved by us!
Patients who have dry AMD are commonly monitored with an Amsler Grid. Patients are given this grid to monitor how their vision is functioning. If they see any parts of the grid missing, or wavy lines, it may indicate that their condition is changing. If wet AMD begins, they will likely become a candidate for anti-VEGF injections. Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) is a drug that is used to stop new blood vessel formation in its tracks. Eylea, Avastin, and Lucentis are the names of the drugs that are successfully being used at this time. These drugs aim to preserve vision and in some cases improve sight. If you’re suffering from macular degeneration, don’t wait to begin supplements and definitely don’t delay that eye exam!
We love hearing from those with AMD and especially hearing success stories. If you’ve got one, post it in the comments below!
Rufino, Silva. Age Related Macular Degeneration . Portugal : GER Group , 2010. Print.
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration? 1
Does everyone with Macular Degeneration eventually go blind?
A person who has been diagnosed with macular degeneration is naturally concerned about permanently losing their sight since the eye disease is the number one cause of severe blindness.
What is Macular Degeneration?
At the front of an eye there’s a lens and an opening, which both adjust to bring objects in focus for the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a delicate tissue that’s very sensitive to light, similar to the film in a camera. The macula is found in the middle of the retina where the incoming light is focused. It is responsible for all central vision, including color.
Macular degeneration occurs when the cells of the macula become damaged, then stop working properly. It is generally an age-related condition. However, people who are younger, even children, can develop a form of macular degeneration known as macular dystrophy.
What are the symptoms?
There are two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Their causes are mostly unknown. The macula starts to deteriorate and central vision slowly breaks down. It often occurs in just one eye initially but eventually spreads to both eyes. In the earlier stages, central vision may become blurred or distorted.
The dry form develops over a period of several months. Patients may become very sensitive to light and/or actually see lights that are not actually there. As the disease gets worse, a dark, blurry spot may appear in the middle of the vision. This spot appears because cells in the macula have stopped working. Over time, the blurred spot may get larger and darker, reducing more of the central vision. Wet macular degeneration can develop at any time and is often thought of as the more severe form of AMD.
What’s the risk of blindness?
The wet form of macular degeneration is the more severe of the two. It occurs as new blood vessels behind the retina start to grow toward the macula. According to brightfocus.org, the wet form affects about 10% of people with macular degeneration. The risk of vision loss is significant, but it’s not absolute and can be prevented with prompt and proper treatment. No one will ever go completely blind from macular degeneration.
Although most cases of wet macular degeneration are due to genetics, there are a number of lifestyle and dietary factors that can affect the risk of developing the dry form of the eye disease. A study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that higher levels of antioxidants, like pycnogenol or grape seed extract, taken daily in combination with zinc, can reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration by 25%.
Other studies have noted beneficial changes to a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale. Ultraviolet light also can damage the retina and increase the risk of developing macular degeneration. Therefore, it is extremely important to protect eyes when outdoors with a great pair of UV protected sunglasses.
As always, knowledge is power so getting the latest information about macular degeneration is extremely important. Any tips you’ve heard that we may have missed? Let us know below!
Dr. Jenna Zigler
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- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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