Aging is a major factor for the development of macular degeneration, and you should have regular screenings to detect this condition in its earliest stages. At True Focus Eye Care in Port Richey, serving both Hernando County and Pasco County, we have the equipment and eye doctors to diagnose this and other eye conditions. With early diagnosis, we can help slow the process of disease like macular degeneration.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
As you age, your eyes begin to wear out. The center portion of your retina, known as the macula, will also break down. Because this portion of the eye is necessary for the central portion of the images you see, when the macula does not function as it should, you will lose sight in the middle of your vision.
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Dry macular degeneration affects the majority of people who suffer from the condition. In this form, the macula breaks down or thins until it cannot perform its job of producing images for your central vision. Dry macular degeneration is also characterized by small, yellow lumps of a protein called drusen that accumulate on a person’s retina.
The wet form is more severe and rarer than dry. It happens when blood vessels behind the retina leak fluids and scar the macula. It progresses much faster than the dry type.
An eye doctor can diagnose either form of macular degeneration long before it progresses to the severe stage of vision loss, as long as you have regular eye exams.
How Does an Eye Doctor Diagnose This Condition?
During regular eye exams, an optometrist will look for signs of drusen, as well as changes in the color of your retina. These signs often appear in the early stage of the condition or accompanied by minor vision loss in the intermediate stage. If you have already lost some sight in the center of your vision, you may have a more advanced stage of macular degeneration. Regardless of what stage you’re in, your optometrist can help slow down the rate of your vision loss, preserving the eyesight you still have.
How Do Eye Doctors Treat Macular Degeneration?
While this condition does not have a cure, optometrists have numerous options to slow its progression. Medications and laser therapy are two options your optometrist could use, depending on the stage and type of the condition you have.
Who Is At Risk For Macular Degeneration?
Certain controllable and uncontrollable factors can increase your risk of developing it, such as:
- Age: As you get older, your chances of developing this condition increases significantly.
- Family History: Researchers have identified several genes that are linked to macular degeneration. Therefore, you have a greater chance of developing it if a family member has it as well.
- Race: It is more common to occur in Caucasians.
- Obesity: Research indicates that obesity is linked to macular degeneration.
- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing this condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
The symptoms of macular degeneration often come on gradually and cause no pain if it is at the early stages. But, as it worsens, symptoms may include:
- Seeing straight lines as bent
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- Needing brighter lights when doing closeup work
- Trouble adapting to dimly lit rooms
- Viewing fine print as blurry
- Seeing colors less brightly
- Difficulty recognizing faces
How Is It Diagnosed?
Your eye doctor can diagnose macular degeneration during your annual eye exam. An early sign of this disease is an accumulation of drusen, which are yellow deposits in the retina. Your optometrists can view them when examining your eyes. Another early sign of macular degeneration is when you see straight lines as bent or missing. We can test this with an Amsler grid.
We may use the optical coherence tomography to view your retina in detail. The imaging technique can help us identify where in the retina and type of condition you have.
How Is Macular Degeneration Treated?
As mentioned above, there is no cure for this progressive disease, but there are many treatment methods that can prevent you from losing any more of your vision. Anti-angiogenesis drugs, laser therapy, and low vision aids are just a few treatments that can help, and our eye doctors can determine the best course of action for your condition.
Don’t Wait Until You Lose Vision to make an Appointment
Once you start to lose vision, you cannot get it back. Make an appointment with us at True Focus Eye Care in Port Richey for regular eye exams to screen for macular degeneration. We serve both Pasco County and Hernando County, and our team is here to help you with whatever vision concerns you have. Contact us at (727) 819-0440 to talk to our office staff to make an appointment.