Macular Degeneration Dallas

Macular DegenerationAge related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60.

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration is a progressive disease that damages central retinal tissue in the eye, called the macula. There are two types of ARMD:

  • Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration: almost always precedes the wet form. Dry ARMD has different stages:
    • In the early stage, cells in the macula have started to deteriorate, but there is little to no vision loss.
    • In the intermediate stage, macular cells breakdown further and vision may start to blur centrally. You may notice that it is more difficult to read or see things in detail if these changes affect both eyes equally.
    • The last stage of dry ARMD is advanced ARMD. In this stage, much of the macula has deteriorated and there may be significant central vision loss.
    • Dry ARMD can convert to wet ARMD at any stage, even in the early stages.
  • Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration: occurs when there is damage to the tissue in a way that triggers abnormal new blood vessel growth under the macula. These new blood vessels are leaky and release blood and fluid under the macula, which significantly impairs your ability to see centrally and in detail. Even when the blood is cleared, there may be permanent central vision loss.

How is Age Related Macular Degeneration Treated?

Treatment depends on the type and severity of Age Related Macular Degeneration.

  • Dry ARMD:
    • When you have dry macular degeneration, there is no surgical or pharmaceutical treatment that prevents dry ARMD from worsening. In addition, no treatment is known to improve vision once you have had vision loss from ARMD.
    • The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that if you have intermediate dry ARMD, you may benefit from taking an AREDS eye vitamin. Eye vitamins have been shown to possibly slow progression of intermediate dry ARMD in some people. Recent research suggests that Omega 3 supplementation may improve retinal function. However, it is not known what role this has in treatment of dry or wet ARMD.
  • Wet ARMD:
    • Medical and surgical options are available for Wet ARMD:
      • New medications are available for treatment of wet ARMD. These medications are usually injected into the eye.
      • Surgery may also be an option depending on the severity of disease.
      • It is important to treat the wet form as soon as it occurs. If you notice any changes on your Amsler grid or changes to your vision in general, your dry ARMD could be converting to wet ARMD and you should call your Eye Doctor immediately.

What can I Do?

  • If you or a direct family member has ARMD, you should be getting regular eye exams.
  • Once you are diagnosed with ARMD, it is very important to use your Amsler grid as your eye doctor has instructed. The Amsler grid helps you monitor your central vision at home and detect if your ARMD has converted to the wet form.
  • If you notice any changes on the Amsler grid, you should call your eye doctor right away.
  • UV light protection in sunglasses or coatings on clear glasses may theoretically help to prevent radiation damage to the macula from the sun.
  • Smoking has been strongly linked to ARMD, so if you are a smoker, quitting smoking is very important.

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