Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye disorder seen in adults, mostly women, who are above 60. The condition progresses very slowly and can lead to severe vision loss in certain cases. Generally, macular degeneration is caused due to aging as the tissues in the eyes become weaker. However, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and a diet with high saturated fat content are also potential risk factors of the eye disorder.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
The common symptoms of age-related macular degeneration include blurred vision, partial loss of vision, inability to see in low light, seeing spots in the center of the vision, and abnormal vision such as straight lines appearing wavy. However, the early signs of the condition are not that obvious and the symptoms usually become more apparent when macular degeneration has developed into a serious stage. This is why regular eye checkups are recommended to all after the age of 60.
Age-related macular degeneration can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam as drusen (small yellow spots) start amassing under the retina. The doctor may also ask you to look at an Amsler grid, which is a pattern of straight lines that are similar to a checkerboard. If the straight lines appear wavy or if you find some lines missing, then it indicates signs of macular degeneration. In order to confirm the initial diagnosis, your doctor may recommend a procedure known as angiography.
In angiography, the eye doctor will inject dye into a vein in your arm and take samples as the dye flows through the blood vessels into your retina. This will help to see if there are any new vessels developing or if some of the blood vessels are leaking fluid or blood into your macula. This way, the location and type of drusen can be identified. In some cases, an optical coherence tomography may also be recommended to examine the blood or fluid under your retina without using the dye.
There is no known cure for age-related macular degeneration, but it can be controlled using some medications to avoid total loss of vision. The common medicines prescribed for the condition include anti-angiogenesis drugs like aflibercept, pegaptanib, bevacizumab, and ranibizumab. In some cases, laser light therapy and photodynamic laser therapy may also be recommended to destroy the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Low vision aids with special lenses may also be advised to those who have already suffered vision loss due to macular degeneration. Contact Complete Care Community Health Center to ask how you can schedule an eye checkup.