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Macular degeneration (also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is a condition that affects the central portion of the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye that’s located at the back of the eye. The area is called the macula, and it’s the most sensitive area of the retina, with millions of tiny light-receptor cells that provide clear central vision. In macular degeneration, the macula deteriorates, resulting in cloudy or blurry central vision or a complete loss of central vision.
Macular degeneration occurs more commonly with age and it's also more common among people with a family history of the disease. Less often, macular degeneration occurs as a result of prolonged use of certain medications or from inherited conditions like Stargardt’s disease. Most people with macular degeneration - about 90% - have the “dry” form that develops as the macula slowly degrades over time. The remaining 10% have the “wet” form (also called exudative macular degeneration) that occurs when tiny blood vessels grow and leak into the retina, damaging the macula.
Macular degeneration causes very few noticeable symptoms in its early stages, which is why seeing an optometrist for regular eye exams is critically important for diagnosing the disease as early as possible. An optometry practice offers the tools and techniques necessary for carefully evaluating the retina for small changes in the retina and for assessing vision changes.
As macular degeneration progresses, it causes symptoms like blurry central vision and loss of overall brightness in your vision. Straight lines may appear wavy, and you may have difficulty adapting to dimly-lit environments. Over time, central vision loss will become more pronounced, affecting your ability to drive, see faces, read, watch TV and use a computer. Eventually, the disease can cause complete loss of central vision.
There is no cure for AMD, but there are some things you and your eye doctor can do to potentially slow the progression of the disease and the vision loss it causes. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, losing excess weight and being more physically active all may help reduce the risk of severe permanent vision loss, and your eye doctor also may prescribe special vitamin supplements to support optimal eye health. It’s also important to have your optometrist check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels on a regular basis and to take steps to keep both at healthy levels. Special glasses and telescopic contact lenses may also be useful in helping patients who are already experiencing vision loss see better.
As a top-rated optometry practice serving patients in Okmulgee, South Tulsa and Bixby, OK, The Eye Center in South Tulsa and Okmulgee provides state-of-the-art care for patients with many types of vision loss, including macular degeneration. Call The Eye Center in South Tulsa at 918-369-3937 or Okmulgee at 918-756-0316 and schedule an exam today.
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