If you are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or have already been diagnosed and are struggling to live with progressing vision loss, you’re not alone. At Envision Eye Care, we treat patients with macular degeneration in Virginia and Tennessee to help them manage their condition, get the most out of their vision, and enjoy a high quality of life.
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What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration, AMD, is an eye disease that causes severe and permanent vision loss. It occurs when the macula — a point in the center of the retina — wears down over time. In healthy eyes, light hits the retina at the back of the eye, and specialized cells send what you see to the brain. As the center point of the retina, the macula is responsible for your central vision.
AMD has two varieties: “dry” and “wet.” Dry AMD describes when fatty protein deposits, or “drusen,” build up near the macula and start to damage it. In dry AMD, vision loss usually occurs gradually, over time. Wet AMD, meanwhile, is when excess blood vessels near the macula burst, causing rapid vision loss.
AMD is common — it’s the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65.
What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration causes irreversible loss of central vision — the middle of your field of view, which you use to look ahead while driving, focus while reading or looking at someone’s face, and during most day-to-day tasks. When you can’t see clearly in front of you, it makes daily activities such as driving and reading difficult or impossible.
Other symptoms of macular degeneration include blurriness, cloudy vision, shadows and dark spots, and distorted or fuzzy-looking vision. Colors may seem paler, and straight lines may appear wavy, which can be dangerous when driving or operating machinery.
How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?
Macular degeneration can be difficult to self-diagnose because many of its symptoms are also symptoms of other eye conditions, or even unrelated health issues like smoking, disrupted sleep, or stress. Some people may not notice something is amiss until their vision begins to deteriorate.
This is why it’s critical to undergo regular comprehensive eye exams, especially if there is a history of macular degeneration in your family. If a parent or grandparent had macular degeneration, you may be genetically predisposed to develop AMD as well. At Envision Eye Care, we’ll closely examine your eyes to determine if you have AMD, or even if you’re simply at risk for AMD and would benefit from a preventative approach.
Is Macular Degeneration Only Age-Related?
Although seniors with AMD account for most macular degeneration patients, this disease can also affect children and adolescents, some in early childhood and others in their twenties. This rare condition is called juvenile macular degeneration.
Juvenile macular degeneration can manifest itself in school, sports, or extracurricular activities, and can affect your child’s ability to learn and advance in their studies. Some symptoms may go unnoticed for years, so annual eye exams for people of all ages are critical for early diagnosis and treatment.
How is AMD Treated?
While vision loss due to AMD is permanent, there are a number of treatments available to slow the progression of vision loss and stop further damage to the macula. When you come to Envision Eye Care for macular degeneration management, Dr. Keene and her team will evaluate your vision and progression of AMD and craft a personalized treatment plan that helps you make the most of your vision.
A number of devices are also available to help you live with AMD, such as magnifiers and telescopes that can enlarge images, allowing you to see things in more detail if your vision is blurry. Some vision aids can be applied to specialized glasses to help with driving, reading, or using a computer. We’ll help you decide which vision solution is best suited for you and how you spend your days.
Macular Degeneration Management in Virginia and Tennessee
Envision Eye Care uses some of the most advanced technology to test for and help patients manage their eye health when they’re living with macular degeneration. Dr. Keene and our compassionate staff will provide you with the tools and treatments you need to improve your vision and continue to do all the things you enjoy. Call a location to schedule an appointment today.
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