What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease involving the deterioration of the macula, the central portion of the retina, which is responsible for our central vision. People who suffer with advanced AMD find it impossible to do everyday activities that involve their central vision, such as reading and driving.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms (May) Include:
- Shadows or missing sections of vision
- Blurry vision
- Distorted vision
- Decreased contrast sensitivity
Types of AMD
AMD is classified as either the dry form or the wet form of macular degeneration.
“Dry” Macular Degeneration
The most common form of AMD is the dry form of macular degeneration. It is caused by the breakdown of cells in the macula. Small yellow-white spots, called drusen, are one of the signs that point to the presence of the disease. Drusen does not necessarily cause a reduction in vision, but as they become larger and more numerous, the risk of visual decline becomes more likely.
“Wet” Macular Degeneration
Unlike dry macular degeneration, vision loss from the wet form of macular degeneration is much more rapid. This more serious type of macular degeneration affects about 10-15% of AMD patients. Abnormal blood vessels may grow beneath the retina and leak blood and proteins. This can cause permanent blind spots in your central vision.
- Exposure to sunlight
- Cardiovascular risk factors (cholesterol, obesity, etc.)
- Family history
Vision Risk vs. Vision Protection- Learn More About Macular Pigment
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Macular Degeneration Risk Management Program
Our macular degeneration risk management program in Chicago, IL includes in-office macular degeneration testing equipment, such as the PHP, OCT, and QuantifEye. Based on Dr. Dhaliwal and Dr. Bello’s recommendations, patients can also have the convenient on-site genetic macular degeneration testing. Our program also includes the EyePromise Restore suppliements/vitamin to help increase macular pigment (one modifiable risk factor associated with macular degeneration).
Specialized Macular Degeneration Testing
- The OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) is a non-invasive test that can detect vision related problems, including macular degeneration, before the patient begins to have symptoms.
- The Forsee PHP is a unique monitoring device, detecting early AMD changes, and is vital in obtaining the correct diagnosis and treatment outcomes.
- The QuantifEye accurately measures macular pigment density levels, and provides an MPOD score. If the macular pigment density is low, Dr. Bello or Dr. Dhaliwal will recommended the patient take an EyePromise supplement such as the Restore, Restore No Zinc, or DVS. These vitamins are proven to provide protection for central vision and has been scientifically demonstrated to increase the MPOD score.
- Our Chicago eye care office also offers advanced macular degeneration testing, which analyzes a cheek swab, to determine the risk of losing vision from AMD.
Testing, along with EyePromise Restore supplement, allows for early treatment in patients and which dramatically improves the success of proper treatments
Click here to read Macular Degeneration Testing frequently asked questions
Macular Degeneration Treatment and Prevention
There is no macular degeneration correction that can reverse the disease, however, there are ways you can slow it down.
The most common dry macular degeneration treatment, that prevents decreasing vision, is antioxidants. Studies have shown that taking eye vitamins for macular degeneration, such as: zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamins A, C and E and also eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly abundant in cold-water fish, have the potential to help slow down vision loss and the effects of macular degeneration. The body needs a larger amount of antioxidants than what is found in our typical diets. The EyePromise Restore, offered at our office, provides over double what other products can provide for central vision protection.
Many patients with macular degeneration consistently monitor their vision at home by using an Amsler grid. The Amsler grid is essentially a graph, with straight vertical and horizontal lines and a small dark circle in the center. If the patient notices straight lines on the Amsler grid becoming wavy, or experiences any previous distortions becoming worse, their macular degeneration may be progressing. Incorporating the Amsler grid, along with further diagnostic monitoring, gives our macular degeneration doctor the ability to see even the smallest changes that can lead to further advancement down the road. Early detection and treatment is crucial to the prognosis and ability to maintain their current lifestyle.
Depending on the location, and amount of leakage present, the most common wet macular degeneration procedures are eye injections and laser treatments. Each method has its risks and benefits that are involved. Routine eye exams, along with our Foresee PHP testing, are necessary to ensure that the disease is not progressing. For patients with macular degeneration, lamps, magnifiers and other forms of low vision aids can give their existing vision its greatest potential, and in some cases, can improve their quality of life significantly.