Serving patients in Charlotte, Monroe, Matthews, and surrounding areas
For most patients, there is no two words more feared when going to the eye doctors’ office than hearing “macular degeneration”. While it is never a pleasant diagnosis to make, or to hear, it does not always mean the patient is going to go blind. There are several different types of macular degeneration, as well as different stages of the disease. As primary care specialists, it’s our job to look at the signs and symptoms of this disease, and manage and follow the patients to prevent it from advancing.
Macular degeneration causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina. The macula is made up of “millions of light sensing cells” that carry the information we see from the eye to the brain, translating them into the images we see. The reason why this disease is so insidious is due to the fact that it attacks these cells and if it advances, it can cause central blindness.
There are many risk factors associated with this disease. Family history, race (Caucasians are more prone to get it), and smokers (double the risk versus non-smokers) are the major factors for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after the age of 60, with some experts saying 80% of people over the age of 80 have some form of it.
Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Early signs of macular degeneration may only be seen by an eye care professional during a comprehensive dilated examination. Monroe macular degeneration patients may notice central blur or distorted lines in their central vision. The first thing our doctors will look for are drusen, tiny yellow deposits located around the macula area. These drusen, if found in medium to large size, can signify degenerative changes.
Stages of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is defined in 3 stages:
- Early- drusen are present in the area, no vision defects are noted.
- Intermediate- more drusen are found to be present in the macula, there may be slight vision loss or none at all.
- Late- drusen are seen with moderate vision loss/central distortion noted on examination.
Finally, Wet Macular degeneration is designated when vision is severely affected. This determination is made where there is abnormal blood vessel growth in the lower layers of the macula. This is the one feared by patients and doctors alike.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
There is no treatment for any lower layer designation of macular degeneration. It is of vital importance to have the experts here at Metrolina Eye do comprehensive dilated examinations at the time intervals they deem safe. For intermediate to late stage AMD, AREDS 2 vitamins are often prescribed to the patient. The AREDS 2 study has found certain vitamins, namely Lutein (10mg) and Zeaxanthin (2mg).
Our offices are conveniently located if you are traveling from Charlotte, Monroe or Matthews, NC. If you would like to schedule a macular degeneration consultation, please call or email our office. We would be more than happy to assist you.