Macular Degeneration Treatment in Bethany and El Reno
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) comes in two forms: Dry AMD and wet AMD. The only current treatment approach for dry AMD is nutritional supplements, certain vitamins and minerals that must be taken daily. Wet AMD may be treated with special medications or laser eye surgery. Laser eye surgery reduces the number of blood vessels and slows any leaks. As the name suggests, AMD risk increases with age, especially after age 40 and 60+.
What is Dry AMD?
Dry macular degeneration is a common problem for people over 65. Dry AMD causes blurred or reduced central vision, from thinning of the macula. The retinal macula is responsible for clear vision in your direct line of sight. Dry macular degeneration may start in one eye and later affect both. Your vision worsens over time, which affects your ability to read, drive and recognize peoples’ faces. It doesn't mean that you'll lose all of your sight. Early detection and self-care may delay vision loss.
Symptoms Of Dry AMD
Dry AMD symptoms usually develop gradually, without pain. They may include:
- Visual distortions, straight lines look bent
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- Needing brighter light to read or perform close work
- Increased difficulty adapting to low light in dimly lit places
- Increased blurriness of printed words
- Decreased brightness of colors
- Difficulty recognizing faces, details
If it affects only one eye, you may not notice a change in your vision because your good eye compensates for the weak eye. Dry AMD does not affect peripheral vision, and rarely causes blindness.
Diagnosing Dry AMD
Your ophthalmologist may diagnose your condition by reviewing your medical and family history and conducting a comprehensive eye exam. Your ophthalmologist or eye surgeon may also:
- Examine the back of your eye and look for a mottled appearance that's caused by yellow deposits that form under the retina, called drusen
- Test for defects in the center of your vision using an Amsler grid (if some of the straight lines in the grid look faded, broken or distorted, you probably have dry AMD)
- Fluorescein angiography images show if you have abnormal blood vessel or retinal changes.
- Indocyanine green angiography uses an injected dye to confirm the findings of a fluorescein angiography or to identify a specific type of macular degeneration
- Optical coherence tomography displays detailed cross-sectional images of retinal thickness, thinning or swelling. These can be caused by fluid accumulations from leaking blood vessels in and under your retina.
Treating Dry AMD
Dry macular degeneration cannot be cured. If your condition is diagnosed early, you can help slow its progression by taking vitamin supplements, eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking.
Although age-related macular degeneration does not affect your peripheral vision and usually does not cause total blindness, it can reduce or eliminate your central vision, which is necessary for driving an automobile, reading and recognizing people's faces. You can also work with a low vision rehabilitation specialist, occupational therapist, your eye surgeon or others trained in this rehabilitation to find ways to adapt to your changing vision.
Some people with advanced dry macular degeneration in both eyes may opt to improve their vision with surgery to implant a telescopic lens in one eye. This contains lenses that magnify your field of vision. The implant may improve both distance and close-up vision, but it has a very narrow field of view, which can be useful in an urban environment when you need help identifying street signs.
What Is Wet AMD?
Dry macular degeneration can progress to wet (exudative) macular degeneration, which is characterized by blood vessels that grow under the retina and leak. The dry type is more common, but it usually progresses more slowly (years). Wet AMD is more likely to cause a sudden change in vision that leads to serious vision loss.
Symptoms of Wet AMD
Early detection and treatment of wet AMD may help you reduce vision loss and even, in some instances, recover your lost vision. Wet macular degeneration symptoms usually appear suddenly and worsen quickly. Wet AMD symptoms may include:
- Visual distortions, straight lines seem bent
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- Decreased intensity of colors
- Well-defined blurry or blind spot in your field of vision
- General haziness in your overall vision
- Sudden onset and rapid worsening of symptoms
Causes of Wet AMD
No one knows the exact cause of wet macular degeneration, but it typically develops in people who have already had dry AMD. Of all people with age-related macular degeneration, about 10 percent have wet AMD. Vision loss can be caused by fluid buildup in the back of the eye. When fluid leaks, it can cause a bump in the macula, resulting in vision loss.
Treating Wet AMD
We have treatments that may help slow disease progression, preserve your existing vision and, if started early enough, help you recover some of your lost vision. These include:
- Medications to stop growth of abnormal blood vessels are the first line treatment for all stages of wet macular degeneration and may help you partially recover vision
- Photodynamic therapy is sometimes used to treat abnormal blood vessels at the center of your macula and may improve your vision and reduce your vision loss After photodynamic therapy, you'll need to avoid direct sunlight and bright lights until the drug has cleared your body, which may take a few days.
- Photocoagulation using a laser to destroy abnormal blood vessels causes scarring that can create a blind spot, but the procedure is used to stop the vessels from bleeding with the aim of minimizing further damage to the macula
Few people with wet macular degeneration are candidates for this treatment. It generally isn't an option if you have abnormal blood vessels directly under the center of the macula. Also, the more damaged your macula is, the lower the likelihood of success.
Learn more about wet and dry AMD from a compassionate ophthalmologist. Call Ralph Hester, MD, Ophthalmology at 405.271.9500. For your convenience, you can use our Request an Appointment form. Our dry eye patients come to us from El Reno, Mustang, Norman, Yukon, Piedmont, Bethany and Edmond.