Macular Degeneration

What is macular degeneration? 

Macular degeneration is a disease of the macula (the small area in the retina at the back of the eye). It allows you to see fine details clearly and do things like read and drive. When the macula doesn't work properly, your central vision can be blurry and you may have areas that are dark or distorted. 

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people older than 50. Although it reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it usual doesn't affect the eye's peripheral vision. 

What causes macular degeneration?

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body's natural aging process. The most common macular problem is age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). Major risk factors for AMD are:

  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Genetic predisposition or having a family history of AMD
  • Being more than 50 years old
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels

The two most common types of AMD are dry and wet:

Dry AMD

Ninety percent of people with AMD have the "dry" form. The condition is caused by damage (oxidative stress) and results in thinning of macular tissue. Vision loss is usually gradual and many people have difficulty adjust to changes in light.

  • Optimize glasses prescription
  • Educate and recommend proper lifestyle choices
  • Low vision tools
  • Continued care

Wet AMD

Ten percent of people who have AMD have the "wet" form. Most people here develop significant vision loss. It results when abnormal blood vessels from underneath the retina. Vision loss may be rapid and severe. 

  • Anti-VEGF vitreous injections
  • Optimize glasses prescription
  • Educate and recommend proper lifestyle choices
  • Low vision tools
  • Continued care

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

  • Words on a page look blurred
  • A dar or empty area appears in the center of vision
  • Straight lines look distorted

How is macular degeneration diagnosed?

Dr. Beth Bruening can detect early stages of AMD during a medical eye examination. Schedule one here

How is macular degeneration treated?

Antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the impact of AMD in some people. However, vitamin supplements are not a cure for AMD, nor will they give you back vision that you may have already lost from the disease. High amounts of Vitamin C, E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper are other nutritional supplements that have ben proven to help maintain vision. 

The most common treatment for wet AMD involves injecting a drug into the eye that stops blood vessel growth and bleeding. These drugs are known as VEGF blocks (anti-VEGF treatments), target a specific chemical in your body that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. Certain types of wet macular degeneration can be treated with laser surgery.