Macular degeneration is the primary cause of vision loss. It affects over six million Americans. Since it typically affects older people, the condition is also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There is another kind of macular degeneration found in younger people, and that is called Stargardt disease. Our eye doctors at Macias Eye Medical Centers in Riverside and Fontana can help you with any questions and issues you have about macular degeneration.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Essentially, macular degeneration is damage to a part of the eye’s retina, called the macula. Macular degeneration causes loss of vision, starting at the center of vision. There are no cures for AMD, and once vision is lost, it cannot be recovered.
Types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are two major types of AMD: dry and wet. It is reported that between 80% to 90% of all AMD cases are of the dry (atrophic) type. For the dry type, vision loss is much slower.
Dry age-related macular degeneration has three stages:
- Early AMD: In this stage, most people do not experience vision loss. However, early AMD can be detected by an eye doctor noticing medium-sized drusen underneath the retina of the eye. Drusen are yellow deposits of a fatty protein under the retina.
- Intermediate AMD: There may be some vision loss at this stage, though not very noticeable. There may be pigment changes in the retina or larger drusen.
- Late AMD: Vision loss is noticeable.
The wet (exudative) type of AMD affects fewer people, but it progresses much more rapidly. Abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula, and they may then bleed and leak fluid, affecting eyesight.
Stargardt disease affects children and young adults between the ages of six and twenty years old. It is genetically transferred, so it will run in specific families. There is no cure, but some treatments for wet AMD can reduce the severity of the disease.
Treatment Options For AMD
There are several FDA-approved macular degeneration treatments available. They usually work best with wet AMD. Some are medications that are injected directly into the eye. Visudyne treatment is a drug injected into the arm, then with the aid of a laser aimed at the blood vessels in the eye, reducing blood vessel sizes.
One treatment that works well with both dry AMD and Stargardt disease is an optical implant in the eye. That is only used for late AMD and where vision loss is significant. Check with your eye doctor if this is your situation.
Schedule An Appointment For An Exam Today
Regular eye exams are critical to diagnosing and controlling macular degeneration. Macias Eye Medical Centers are here to assist you with all your vision and optical needs. Call 909-885-3933 today to see one of our professional eye doctors in Riverside and Fontana.