What Is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness — even more than glaucoma and cataracts combined, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. While there isn’t currently a cure for macular degeneration, receiving eye care can help slow down the progression of this eye condition. 

Here at Grochmal Eye Center and Aesthetics, we excel at diagnosing macular degeneration so you can receive the care you need to preserve your sight as long as possible.

If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with macular degeneration, you might have questions. You can learn more about what macular degeneration is — and how the condition is managed — in this article. 

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that affects your macula. The macula is part of your retina, and it contains high levels of photoreceptor cells i.e.,  the cells that detect light. When these photoreceptor cells send messages to your brain, your brain interprets these signals as images. The macula focuses on images in your center of vision, and the rest of your retina focuses on peripheral vision. 

With this in mind, it makes sense that the signs of macular degeneration include loss of vision in your center of vision. Decreased central vision can impact your ability to read, write, drive, and see faces. 

Five symptoms of macular degeneration

Any time that you experience vision changes, contact Grochmal Eye Center. Even though it can be intimidating to learn you have macular degeneration, early treatment can help you preserve your sight and reduce the risk of future damage to your macula.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

  1. Blurry vision
  2. Loss of visual activity
  3. Loss of vision (blind spots) in your central vision
  4. Struggling to recognize the dark/light tones of various colors
  5. Seeing straight lines as wavy

Some of these symptoms can be signs of other eye conditions. For example, blurry vision can be a sign of myopia. This is why regular exams and accurate diagnosis are essential for your overall eye health.

Types of macular degeneration

There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.

1. Wet macular degeneration

This type of macular degeneration — also called neovascular macular degeneration — accounts for 10-15% of all cases. Although less common, this version progresses quickly. Wet macular degeneration earns the name “wet” because it’s caused by leaky blood vessels under the retina. The leakage damages the retina. 

2. Dry macular degeneration

This type of macular degeneration is also called non-neovascular macular degeneration. This is the most common type of macular degeneration, accounting for up to 90% of the cases. It also progresses more slowly than wet macular degeneration.

In addition to determining which type of macular degeneration you have, your provider at Grochmal Eye Center also indicates which stage you have: early, intermediate, and advanced. 

Know your risk factors

The risk factors for developing macular degeneration include:

Note: aging is the most common risk factor. In fact, sometimes macular degeneration is called age-related macular degeneration.

How is it treated?

According to the AAO, there isn’t a cure. However, there are several options for slowing down the progression of vision loss, including taking vitamins that support eye health and receiving injections (to treat abnormal, leaky blood vessels).

You can also support your eye health by lowering your risk factor. Eat a diet rich in dark leafy greens and fish, maintain a healthy weight, control your blood pressure levels, and stop smoking. 

Keep your regular eye exams

Your regular eye exams are vital for your eye health, whether you have the signs of macular degeneration or not. Comprehensive eye exams can spot the early warning signs of macular degeneration, and we can also monitor your condition if you already have it. 

To learn more about macular degeneration or to book an appointment, call us at 410-744-5310 or request an appointment online.

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