Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration Treatment in Hermitage & Greenville, PA

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Specialist in Mercer County

The Valley Eye Center is Mercer County’s choice for macular degeneration treatment in Hermitage and Greenville PA.

Macular degeneration, also referred to as age-related macular degeneration, or shortened to AMD or ARMD, is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment among those over the age of 65. Since this age group – the baby boomer generation – is a large percentage of the current U.S. population, macular degeneration has become an increasing problem in the country.

As the name implies, this condition attacks the macula – an oval-shaped pigmented area at the center of the eye’s retina. Age-related macular degeneration leads to a gradual deterioration of the macula resulting in the loss of central vision. The condition makes it difficult for individuals to read or recognize faces. Those suffering from AMD or ARMD almost have to completely rely on their side or peripheral vision to engage in normal daily activities.

The Difference Between Wet & Dry Macular Degeneration

AMD/ARMD is generally classified into one of two types. Dry (non-neovascular) and Wet (neovascular).

Dry macular degeneration is the most common and earliest stage of the disease affecting roughly 80 to 90% of individuals with AMD/ARMD. It’s cause is unknown but it’s usually tied to aging.

Drusen – small or white yellowish deposits – form on the retina underneath the macula. The spots are believed to be deposits or debris from deteriorating tissue. Gradual central vision loss occurs as a result. Just 10 to 20% of individuals will experience dry macular degeneration progressing into wet macular degeneration.

Since it’s slow progressing, there is no approved treatment or cure as of yet although there have been a few encouraging studies suggesting that antioxidant-rich nutritional supplements with lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent dry AMD/ARMD from progressing into sight-threatening wet macular degeneration.

Wet macular degeneration is the more advanced and damaging type of AMD/ARMD and is present in roughly 10 to 15% of individuals with the disease. New blood vessels form underneath the retina leading to blood and fluid leakage. This leakage can lead to permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells that die off causing blind spots in central vision.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Symptoms of early stages of age-related macular degeneration may go unrecognized until the condition progresses or begins to affect vision in both eyes. It’s important to recognize that this is a chronic age-related retinal disease where vision deteriorates over time, typically starting around the age of 50. Here are a few signs of macular degeneration to be mindful of:

Distorted Straight Lines – Distorted straight lines in your vision are very commonly one of the earliest signs of AMD/ARMD. Straight lines begin to appear wavy, bent, broken, or crooked. This may first be noticed while looking at windowblinds at home or telephone poles as you drive.

Gradual Decline of Central Vision – We rely on our central vision to read, drive, and look at photographs or faces. Prior to diagnosis, AMD/ARMD patients will often visit an eye doctor with complaints of blurred vision while reading, difficulty discerning colors, or feel as if they’re driving with a dirty or fogged windshield.

Spots in the Middle of Your Vision – A common sign of macular degeneration may be a consistent dark, blank, black spot in the center of your vision. This spot will typically begin as a small nuisance but grow over time.

Macular Degeneration Risk Factors

Age: Since macular degeneration is most prevalent among older populations, aging is thought to be the primary risk factor for the disease.

Race/Sex: Caucasian (white) women are also generally more at risk for macular degeneration.

Genetics: Many people with macular generation have been found to have specific variants of different genes suggesting a hereditary component to the disease.

Drug Side Effects: Certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, have been linked to macular degeneration. While everything from Thorazine (used to treat vomiting/nausea or persistent hiccups) to ibuprofen has been linked to macular degeneration, the American Academy of Ophthalmology considers many of these studies to be contradictory.

Cigarette Smoking: There is increasing evidence of a link between cigarette smoking and macular degeneration. Smokers are believed to be up to four times more at risk to develop age-related macular degeneration. Second-hand smoke is also a factor as living with a smoker can more than double someone’s macular degeneration risk.

Overall Health: Both obesity and high blood pressure have been tied to macular degeneration development.

How to Confirm Macular Degeneration

The Heritage and Greenville PA eye doctors at Valley Eye Center recommend that anyone over the age of 45 undergo a thorough eye exam and then a follow-up exam every 2 to 4 years.

If you’re experiencing any of the above-described vision disturbances, it’s critical that you schedule an appointment ASAP to be assessed by our professional ophthalmologists. This is the only way to ensure a prompt diagnosis and treatment, whether the diagnosis is AMD/ARMD or any other eye condition.

At your appointment, our ophthalmologist will look for early signs of macular degeneration to either confirm or dismiss possible AMD/ARMD or wet or dry disease.

A ophthalmoscope – a specialized microscope – may be used to look for retina abnormalities. If drusen – small yellow deposits underneath the retina – are detected, early-stage macular degeneration is confirmed and a specific grid will be used to measure your central vision and assess damage. A fluorescein angiography may be ordered to examine the retinal blood vessels around the macula.

Call Valley Eye Center today at (724) 347-5665 to schedule an appointment and find out if macular degeneration may be the culprit behind any vision problems you may be experiencing. If you’re in need of macular degeneration treatment in Hermitage or Greenville, PA, the Valley Eye Center is here to help.