Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration (AMD) is the general term for a group of disorders affecting the macula, the central part of the retina in the back of the eye. The macula is responsible for central vision, seeing fine detail, and helping distinguish colors.

With macular degeneration the retinal tissues break down resulting in loss of central vision.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

Symptoms of this disease include blurry or distorted central vision and sometimes a dimming of color vision. People who lose function of the macula often have difficulty with reading, driving, and fine motor tasks such as sewing. If macular degeneration occurs only in one eye, the symptoms may not be as noticeable, as the “good” eye will compensate for the affected eye. With macular degeneration side vision is not affected. For example, imagine looking at a clock with hands. With macular degeneration, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands.

Who is at risk for macular degeneration?

  • People with an immediate family history of macular degeneration
  • People who 50 or older
  • People who smoke or used to smoke
  • People who are overweight
  • People who eat a lot of saturated fat (meat, butter, cheese etc.)
  • People who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease

How is macular degeneration diagnosed?

One test to help detect macular degeneration uses the Amsler Grid. The Amsler Grid, which is basically graph paper, is a tool for checking the reading area of vision and helps detect distorted vision. To take the test now, click on Amsler Grid and print out the grid. Then follow the directions for use.

If macular degeneration is suspected, sometimes a test called fluorescein angiography (dye test) is done. With this test, dye is injected into the arm or hand and travels through the body to the eyes. Photographs of the retina are taken to show if changes have occurred in the retina and underlying tissue.

How is macular degeneration treated?

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, laser treatment or medication can sometimes help slow the process of the disease if detected early enough.

Although the central vision can be damaged by macular degeneration, the remaining side vision is sufficient to allow for functional activities of daily living. Many people can even continue to read or do close work by using low vision aids such as specially designed reading lights, glasses and magnifiers.

Can macular degeneration be prevented?

Dr. Waters recommends the following for people at risk of development macular degeneration:

  • avoid smoking
  • wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection, even on cloudy days
  • wear a hat when outdoors
  • take a good multivitamin
  • eat green leafy vegetables

If you notice any distortion on the Amsler Grid or fall within one of the risk categories, click here to fill out our quick email form or call our office at 810-732-2272, so we can be of service.