Macular Degeneration

Diagnosing Macular Degeneration: Signs and Symptoms

Macular degeneration stands as the primary origin of blindness and vision loss in American senior citizens. Macular degeneration is often referred to by its acronyms: AMD and ARMD, age-related macular degeneration. As the pool of Americans over sixty-five continues to grow, macular degeneration, and its accompanying symptoms of vision loss, are on the rise.

The macula, an area located on the retina, is associated with clear and central vision. Driving and reading are two activities that require a working macula. AMD transpires in conjunction with the degeneration of the macula; therefore, central vision issues may arise when an individual suffers from macular degeneration.

AMD is characterized by a gradual and pain-free loss of vision. Occasionally, some individuals will experience a rapid onset of macular degeneration. Individuals suffering from macular degeneration will often experience shadowy places in their central vision. Others find their vision becomes abnormally fuzzy or distorted.

Oftentimes, an eye care specialist can identify the onset of macular degeneration during a routine retinal examination. This usually occurs before an individual experiences any symptoms. If Levin Eyecare practitioners suspect macular degeneration, we will present an Amsler grid – a chart comprised of black lines organized in a graph pattern – to distinguish if patients are suffering from macular degeneration. If we discover a defect, such as blurriness or distortion of vision, we will request a fluorescein angiography. A fluorescein angiography is designed to inspect the retinal blood vessels, which encompass the macula.

Treating Macular Degeneration

A cure for macular degeneration does not currently exist. However, many patients may find relief with treatments that postpone the advancement of macular degeneration, or partake in therapies that enhance their sight.

Recommended treatments depend on the progression of the disease. There are no FDA-approved therapies for early stage, dry form macular degeneration. Levin Eyecare specialists often encourage a reworking of a patient’s diet to stave off the macular degeneration’s development into the more advanced, wet form stage.

Wet form macular degeneration is often characterized by acute vision loss. The FDA has approved two drug treatments, Macugen and Visudyne, which are to be used in conjunction with Photodynamic Therapy. Researchers have developed promising new treatments in the form of Lucentis and Avastin, which are displaying favorable results. An extensive number of patients utilizing these investigative therapies have experienced reduced loss of sight.