Macular Degeneration in Brunswick, Jesup, and St Marys, GA
Chronic eye diseases like macular degeneration often don’t have any symptoms early on. That’s why routine eye exams and early interventions with our Brunswick, Jesup, and St Marys optometrist team are so essential to your eye health! Keep reading to learn more about macular degeneration and how we help people living with this common eye condition.
Understanding Macular Degeneration
About 11 million people in the United States have age-related macular degeneration or AMD for short. This makes AMD one of the leading causes of vision loss.
To understand what AMD is, it helps to know some basic eye anatomy. On the inside of the back of your eye is a thin tissue called the retina. This retina is home to millions of cells that detect light and help transmit visual information to the brain.
In the center of your retina is an area called the macula. Measuring just 5 millimeters across, the macula is responsible for central vision, which is important for things like reading and seeing faces or fine detail.
AMD happens when the macula begins to thin and deteriorate. Eventually, this can lead to total vision loss.
Two Types of AMD to Know
There are two main types of AMD: dry and wet.
About 90 percent of people with AMD have dry type. Dry AMD is associated with the formation of fatty crystalline deposits behind the retina called drusen. As these deposits grow, the macula thins out and breaks down.
Did you know? Almost everyone over the age of 50 has at least one small drusen in one or both eyes, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. It’s only when these spots become large that a person may be at risk of AMD.
About 10 percent of people with AMD have wet type. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow behind the macula and leak fluids, which scars and damages macular tissue. In some cases, dry AMD may turn into wet AMD over time.
Who Gets Macular Degeneration?
Family history, advancing age, and environmental factors like smoking, UV radiation exposure, and other underlying health conditions like obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease may all increase the risk of macular degeneration.
Signs and Symptoms of AMD
Most people don’t notice signs or symptoms of AMD early on. As the condition worsens, a person may begin to experience issues like:
Blurry vision or blind spots in the center field of sight
Straight lines start to look wavy
Difficulty adjusting to changing ambient light
Difficulty reading, seeing color, or recognizing faces
Usually, side vision (peripheral vision) remains intact in people with AMD. Dry AMD tends to progress slowly over years, while wet AMD may develop more quickly and lead to sudden vision changes.
Diagnosing Macular Degeneration
Our optometry team uses a range of techniques to help diagnose macular degeneration, including:
Dilated eye exam so we can see inside your eye
Vision assessment with an Amsler grid
Angiography, which helps us see blood vessels behind the retina
Tomography, which helps us see any scarring or thinning on the retina
Early detection may help slow the progression of the disease by allowing us to implement interventions sooner.
AMD Treatment Options From our Georgia Optometrists
AMD isn’t curable and in most cases, any vision loss that occurs is lost for good. However, our optometrists at Vision Source Family Eye Care have a range of AMD treatment options to help patients maximize their visual function, slow disease progression, or sometimes prevent it from developing in the first place.
We may provide or recommend:
Prescription eyewear to accommodate for decreased visual acuity (including prescription sunglasses that protect against UV radiation)
Healthy lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, nutritional supplements, and dietary modifications
Low vision strategies (e.g., large print reading materials)
For wet AMD, we may also recommend specialized eye injections or laser surgery (called photocoagulation) to help seal off abnormal blood vessels and keep them from leaking
Want to be Screened for Macular Degeneration?
If you live near Brunswick, St. Marys, and Jesup, GA and are looking for an optometrist who can help you gain clarity about your eye health, contact Vision Source Family Eye Care today to schedule an eye exam. We make it easy! Schedule an appointment online or give us a call at one of our three locations.