1474.jpegAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye disease characterized by the deterioration of the central part of the retina, known as the macula. According to the National Eye Institute, age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for older adults worldwide, indicating its significant impact on global health.

Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing this condition effectively.Infinity Retina, owned by retina specialist Dr. A'sha Brown, offers personalized and comprehensive care for those affected by macular degeneration. If you or a loved one are experiencing macular degeneration symptoms, schedule an appointment with us today and set a course for clearer, healthier vision.

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Types & Stages of Macular Degeneration

There are three stages of AMD: early, intermediate, and advanced. The early stage is usually asymptomatic or may present with mild vision changes that are easily overlooked. As the disease progresses into the intermediate stage, symptoms become more apparent and can significantly affect daily activities such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces.

Early and intermediate AMD can both be categorized as dry AMD. Dry macular degeneration is characterized by the thinning of the macula and the presence of drusen—tiny yellowish deposits that form beneath the retina. This kind of macular degeneration progresses slowly and typically affects both eyes, leading to a gradual loss of central vision.

If left untreated, dry AMD can develop into wet AMD. Wet macular degeneration progresses rapidly once it develops as abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak, damaging the macula. Although wet macular degeneration accounts for only about 10% of cases, it is responsible for the majority of severe vision loss associated with the condition. Prompt treatment is essential to help slow the progression of vision loss in wet macular degeneration.

AMD Symptoms

Symptoms of macular degeneration often develop so gradually that they may not be immediately noticeable. This underscores the importance of regular eye exams, especially as you age, to detect any changes in eye health early on. During these exams, doctors can look for early signs of macular degeneration, which aren’t always evident without a professional assessment.

Because macular degeneration primarily affects your central vision, early symptoms can include:

  • Blurriness or distortion in the center of your vision with no change to your peripheral vision
  • Difficulty reading small print
  • Diminished color perception
  • Difficulty recognizing faces

Advanced stages of wet macular degeneration may also cause visual distortions, such as straight lines appearing wavy or a blank spot in the center of your vision.

Causes & Risk Factors

While the exact cause of age-related macular degeneration is not fully understood, certain factors are known to increase the risk of developing this condition.

  • Age: The chance of developing AMD increases significantly as you get older, particularly after age 60.
  • Smoking: If you smoke cigarettes, your risk of developing macular degeneration is higher.
  • Family History: Having a close relative with macular degeneration means you could be more likely to get it too.
  • Race: Caucasian individuals tend to have a greater risk of AMD compared to other racial groups.
  • Eye Color: Light-colored eyes, like blue, green, or gray, might increase your risk of AMD.
  • Certain Medical Conditions: Health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can all add to the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

It’s important to note that these risk factors do not guarantee you will develop macular degeneration, but they do make it more likely. Regular eye check-ups can help with early detection and management of macular degeneration.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If your eye doctor suspects macular degeneration, they will perform various tests to determine the type and stage of the disease. These may include:

  • A visual acuity test to measure how well you can see at different distances.
  • Dilating your pupils to examine the back of your eyes with a special magnifying lens.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) to produce detailed cross-sectional images of your retina.
  • Fluorescein angiography to track the flow of dye injected into your arm's vein through blood vessels in the back of your eye.

Early diagnosis is crucial, as there are treatment options available that can help slow or prevent vision loss from progressing any further. Treatment for macular degeneration focuses on slowing the progression of the disease and preserving as much vision as possible. At Infinity Retina, Dr. A'sha Brown employs several approaches depending on whether a patient has wet or dry macular degeneration.

For dry macular degeneration, Dr. Brown often recommends lifestyle modifications, including nutritional supplements, as research has shown that certain vitamins and minerals can help reduce the risk of the condition worsening. Patients are advised to maintain a diet rich in antioxidants and may be advised to take specific vitamin supplements.

In cases of wet macular degeneration,anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) medications are used to control the growth of these new blood vessels.

Dr. Brown carefully evaluates each patient's condition and lifestyle to recommend the best course of action to preserve vision and manage symptoms of macular degeneration.

Living with Macular Degeneration

Living with macular degeneration requires adjustments to cope with changes in vision and maintain quality of life. Here are strategies that can help:

  • Utilize Low Vision Aids: Specialized glasses, magnifiers, and electronic devices can enhance your remaining vision and assist with daily tasks.
  • Adjust Your Home Environment: Increase lighting and contrast, use bold, black-on-white prints, and declutter spaces to minimize accidents.
  • Take Advantage of New Technology: Employ devices and software that can enlarge text, read aloud, or modify screen colors to reduce strain.
  • Schedule Regular Eye Care: Keep up with eye exams to monitor the condition and update low vision aids as needed.
  • Eat Well & Stay Active: Maintain a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and engage in regular exercise within comfortable limits.

Infinity Retina's Approach to Care

As a retina specialist, Dr. A'sha Brown understands the complexities of macular degeneration and stays at the forefront of the latest research and treatment options. Her personalized approach to care ensures that each patient receives a thorough evaluation and individualized treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

From early detection to ongoing management, Infinity Retina is committed to providing top-quality care for individuals living with macular degeneration. With regular eye exams and proper treatment, it is possible to prevent vision loss despite this condition. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of macular degeneration, schedule an appointment with Dr. Brown today for expert evaluation and personalized care.

At  Infinity Retina, compassion and expertise are at the core of everything we do.  Schedule an appointment online with  Dr. A'sha Brown or call our office at (610) 606-1671 to get started on your journey towards healthier eyes and better vision.

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