05 Mar Common Symptoms That Could Signal Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration can lead to blindness if left untreated, and there’s no cure. That’s why you need to know about and be on the lookout for symptoms of this widespread eye disease. Also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), this condition is, in fact, the leading cause of blindness in men and women age 50 and older.
But you can manage macular degeneration to reduce your risk of the disease advancing and worsening. Early detection is the key.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a common eye condition that affects more than 10 million Americans. It occurs when the macula, which is in the center of the retina, deteriorates or gets damaged. The macula is the part of the eye that helps you with sharp, central vision. The retina is the part of the eye that sends light signals to the brain that are converted into images.
When the macula is damaged, your central vision and ability to see fine detail is impaired. Your ability to read, drive, watch television, or work on the computer diminishes. The decline is gradual, but over time macular degeneration can lead to vision loss.
There are two types of macular degeneration. The dry form, also called non-neovascular, affects about 85-90% of people with macular degeneration. This more common type of the disease develops slowly. The wet type, also called neovascular, is a more severe form of the disease and leads to vision loss more swiftly.
Can macular degeneration be prevented?
No, you can’t prevent macular degeneration, but you can manage some of the risk factors that increase your chances of developing it.
You can’t change some of these risk factors, such as your family history, age, eye color, and race. Macular degeneration is more common among Caucasians than African Americans and Latinos and is also more common among those with lighter-color eyes.
But there are other risk factors that you can modify to reduce your risk of developing this serious degenerative eye disease. Making the following healthy lifestyle changes can help boost your eye health and help prevent macular degeneration and other eye diseases:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Get your blood pressure under control
- Eat a healthy diet
- Make and keep appointments for your annual comprehensive dilated eye exam
Side effects of certain drugs may also lead to macular degeneration, so check with your doctor if you are experiencing any vision changes.
Symptoms that could signal macular degeneration
In the early stages of macular degeneration, you may not notice any signs. But during an eye exam, our doctors at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eyecare can detect the presence of medium-sized drusen, which are yellow deposits in the retina and a possible early sign of macular degeneration. Another early sign that your eye doctor can detect is pigmentary changes under the retina.
Other signs of macular degeneration include:
- Shadowy areas in your central vision
- Distorted vision
- Difficulty adapting to changing light conditions
- Distortion of shapes
- Straight lines that appear wavy
- Distortion of color vision
For more information on diagnosing and treating macular degeneration, call us at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eyecare with offices in East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey.