In the back of your eye is a small spot called the macula, which controls visual acuity. When the macula begins to deteriorate, it's called macular degeneration. Having a healthy macula is key to living a normal lifestyle, as it controls your ability to recognize faces, read, drive a car or watch television. At Holt Eye Clinic we see an increasing number of macular degeneration patients, as it's the leading cause of vision loss in the United States among seniors. Over 2 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration or AMD, and that number is expected to rise to over 5 million by the end of the decade.
When asked about macular degeneration Doctor Holt and his team are happy to consult with any of our patients to educate them on the types of this disease. There are two types of macular degeneration, and each one has different symptoms and treatment options. AMD is classified as either dry or wet. Almost 90 percent of the AMD patients have the dry form, which is the less serious of the two types. Wet AMD can pose a much more serious risk to your eyesight.
Dry AMD is the earlier form of the disease and can happen because of aging. The macular tissues begin to thin, or pigment is deposited into the macula, or sometimes both. This results in gradual vision loss that can take years to happen. It can result in severe vision loss, and there are no approved treatments for the condition right now.
About 10 percent of the time dry macular degeneration changes into the wet form, which is more advanced and causes more damage. In this form, new blood vessels grow behind the retina, leaking fluid and blood. This can cause permanent damage to the cells, creating blind spots in the middle of the field of vision.
There is no actual treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration, although exercising, eating a healthy diet, and always wearing UV protecting sunglasses outdoors seem to help to prevent the development of the disease.
There are treatments for wet AMD that help to stop the forming of new blood vessels. These include a number of prescription drugs that our doctor will discuss with you if needed.
While there is no single cause for AMD, research suggests that there is a genetic tie to many cases. Patients are more likely to develop the disease if they are:
Living a healthy lifestyle, including taking omega-3 fatty acids, seems to be the best way to help prevent AMD from forming.
If you've been diagnosed with AMD, our dedicated team is ready to help you make the lifestyle changes that can prolong your eyesight. Contact our office at 501-624-0609 or 501-624-6330 to make an appointment today. Doctors from Retina Associates of Little Rock see patients at the Holt Eye Clinic's 205 McAuley Court facility weekly. Our macular degeneration patients benefit from their presence by receiving more convenient care for their condition.