According to eye health experts, you should have a thorough eye exam at least once every one or two years. However, if you have a progressive eye condition such as macular degeneration, you should visit your eye doctor more frequently.
With this disease, only the center of your vision is usually affected. Most people over 60 years old suffer permanent vision loss because of it. Here is a look at how it happens and its symptoms.
Macular degeneration is a common eye ailment that often worsens as you age. It occurs as the macula deteriorates. The macula is the central region of your retina located at the back of your eye. In other words, it is the light-sensing nerve tissue in your eye.
The condition is also known as AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, as it occurs as you age. Fortunately, it rarely causes blindness, but it can cause severe vision issues. Juvenile macular degeneration or Stargardt disease is another type of this disorder. It affects young adults and children.
Macular degeneration can either be dry or wet. Of the two, wet macular degeneration is responsible for about 90 percent of blindness. This is despite dry macular degeneration being the most prevalent of them. Dry macular degeneration is progressive as it precedes wet macular degeneration. Yet, this is not always true—dry AMD does not always lead to wet AMD.
Macular degeneration symptoms are often unnoticeable during the early stages. At first, you may experience slow or sudden variations in your vision. You may lose your eyesight slowly or abruptly. It depends on the type of macular degeneration you have.
Some of the indicators of macular degeneration include:
Trouble recognizing faces, including familiar ones
Diminished central vision. It may occur in one or both eyes
Straight lines may appear to be wavy or bent due to optical distortions
Trouble adjusting to poor light levels like a dimly, faintly-lit theater
The existing blurriness of printed words is magnified
Amplified sensitivity to glare
Experiencing lessened intensity and brightness of colors
Needing brighter light when performing near-sight tasks or reading
Experiencing a blind or blurry spot in your line of vision
Fortunately, macular degeneration does not cause blindness—it does not affect side vision.
Your optometrist can use several methods to diagnose macular degeneration. A few of them include:
Performing an acuity test for your distance and near vision
Performing a dilated eye test using an ophthalmoscope. It gives a more detailed picture of your macula
Performing an OCT test using high-tech imaging equipment. It gives clearer, high-definition images of your macula and its supporting tissue
People experiencing advanced macular degeneration are at a higher risk of developing depression or social seclusion. In some instances, they may experience visual hallucinations or develop Charles Bonnet syndrome. So, if you notice the symptoms mentioned above in you or your loved one, visit your eye doctor immediately.
For more information on macular degeneration and getting treatment, contact Dr. Richard E. Hults & Associates. Our offices are in Canton, Akron, Fairview Park, and Elyria, Ohio. Visit www.drhults.com to schedule an appointment.