Everything You Should Know About Macular Degeneration

close up of an eyeball: our edmonton optometrists explain macular degeneration and the importance of routine eye exams

For some people, there is nothing more terrifying than the prospect of losing your eyesight. We rely on our eyes so much, from getting around safely to finding entertainment. This is considered one of the most vital senses we possess, and it’s crucial that we care for our eyes on a regular basis. It is important that you know how to look out for the signs and symptoms of the leading cause of vision loss—macular degeneration.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a presently incurable eye disease that will impact over 40-million individuals worldwide by 2020. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation states that it “is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina.”

This stops the transmission of images to the optic nerve, where they would be decoded by the brain. This mechanical breakdown within the eye can eventually cause central blindness over time and is often exacerbated by age. Little is known about the actual causes of the disease, except that it seems to have both genetic (hereditary) and environmental contributors. There are two primary types of macular degeneration:

  • Wet Macular Degeneration can be attributed to the growth of abnormal vessels within the eye that leak fluid, obstructing the natural order of visual processing.
  • Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common form of the disease and doesn’t involve leakage. Instead, the macula has a tendency to atrophy and become thin. This leads to blurred vision and central blindness in some cases.

Stages and Symptoms – Don’t Wait to Book Your Next Eye Exam

  1. Stage One—Early Macular Degeneration:
    This stage may have no disruptive symptoms at all—emphasizing the importance of regular eye exams from your optometrist in Edmonton. Only the doctor has the tools to look for the yellow deposits below the skin of the eye, called drusen. These are the tell-tale sign of the beginnings of macular degeneration. If your optometrist sees drusen, you’ll need to pay more attention to vision changes and visit the office more often to follow the progress of the disease.
  2. Stage Two—Intermediate Macular Degeneration:
    During stage two, you will definitely start to notice some disruption to your vision. It may not be notable or impact the quality of your life, but it will start to require some corrective measures or herald the beginning of the final stages of macular degeneration. Your optometrist can confirm the progression of the disease by searching for larger drusen and pigment changes in the eye.
  3. Stage Three—Advanced Macular Degeneration:
    At this point, the disease has become aggressive and has created a significant issue with your ability to see. You may no longer be able to drive or to care for yourself without assistance.

Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration

While macular degeneration can’t be cured, you can take preventative measures by taking care of yourself. Diet, exercise, and an abstinence from smoking and illegal drugs can seriously prolong the life of your eyes. Talk to your optometrist about your chances of developing the disease and make regular appointments if you have concerns about any noticeable vision changes.

Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Hey, I am founder of Bhaskar Health and completed my Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. My clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab.

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