About Macular Degeneration
The macula is the central area of the retina. It is responsible for our central vision, which is needed for activities like reading and driving, as well as for seeing fine details. As we age, especially after the age of 60, the macula can begin to deteriorate, and this is called macular degeneration. There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet, and together, they are one of the major causes of vision impairment and blindness among the elderly. Individuals with macular degeneration have impaired central vision but typically have enough peripheral vision to be able to perform daily functions.
There is currently no cure for either type of the disease, but there are innovative and advanced treatments for wet macular degeneration that have the potential to delay or stop its progression. At Koch Eye Associates, our eye health professionals are extensively trained in these treatments and can help you regain some of your lost vision or maintain your remaining functional vision. Schedule an exam at our Wakefield, Woonsocket, North Kingstown, Warwick, Providence, or Johnston, RI facility to find out which treatment is best for your macular degeneration.
"I first went to Koch Eye many years ago after being referred there for a follow up appointment after being treated at the emergency room for an eye injury, That was the only time I actually saw Dr. Koch himself (who was very nice by the way) It is only in the last few years (since my old lady eyes have begun to need reading glasses) that I have come in regularly for my eye exam and glasses prescription. I never have any problem with wait time because there are several optometrists. Really the only thing I am not crazy about is their hours. I wish it was possible to get an evening appointment or that there was an occasional Saturday. The office staff is pleasant and courteous"- I.C. / Yelp / May 09, 2019
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Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Both wet and dry macular degeneration are usually age-related, but their symptoms are a bit different. Dry macular degeneration is the most commonly occurring type, but there are no current treatments for it. It progresses quite slowly, and patients with the dry type typically retain some central vision, as well as their peripheral vision. Wet macular degeneration is less common, but its effects are quicker and more severe. However, the wet type does have some innovative treatments available.
Patients with dry macular degeneration may notice:
- Dimmed or distorted vision, especially when reading
- Blind spots
Patients with wet macular degeneration may notice:
- Straight lines appearing wavy
- Blind spots
- Loss of central vision
Macular Degeneration Causes
Dry macular degeneration is the growth of tiny clumps of protein within the macula that can block, blur, or distort vision. Wet macular degeneration is the result of abnormal blood vessels that grow underneath the retina and then leak blood or fluid. Scientists have not been able to determine the exact cause of macular degeneration; however, there are some associated risk factors. The most predominant risk factors that have been linked to the disease are genetics, smoking, and being over the age of 60. Other important associated traits and conditions include fair skin and light eyes, obesity, being female, and having high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Macular Degeneration Treatment Options
There is no treatment currently available for the dry type of the disease. However, the experienced specialists at Koch Eye Associates can recommend many different types of low vision aids and therapies to help you continue to live an independent, full life.
For the wet type of macular degeneration, our highly skilled ophthalmologists can administer anti-VEGF injections to prevent or slow the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. These injections include the medications Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin. If the macular degeneration is detected early enough, these injections are the ideal treatment method. If the disease has progressed to a later stage, laser surgery can be performed to cauterize the blood vessels to keep them from bleeding or leaking into the retina.
Seek Help Today
At Koch Eye Associates, we understand that a diagnosis of macular degeneration can be frightening, but we are here to help. Schedule your first comprehensive exam at one of our Rhode Island offices so we can begin your diagnostic testing and customized treatment plan. With our experience and skill, we can help you manage your symptoms, fight your vision loss, and maintain independence.