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Information on Macular Degeneration by Our Columbus and Gahanna Optometrists at Berk Eye Care Center

Most people only think of heading to their eye doctors when they are concerned about their vision or have a known vision problem, but there are various eye conditions to me concerned about beyond simple near-sightedness or far-sightedness. One major concern is macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting 10 million Americans. It is more common than both glaucoma and cataracts. At Berk Eye Care Center, our eye doctors can provide a diagnosis for all these conditions, and help to save your eyes.

man with macular degeneration in Columbus, OH

What is Macular Degeneration?

Most simply, macular degeneration is the degeneration of the macula, which is the central portion of the retina and is responsible for the central portion of a person's vision. The retina is located at the back of the eye and records images via the optic nerve. It controls central vision which is instrumental to activities such as  reading, driving, and face recognition.

What's the Difference Between Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration comes in two basic types;

Dry (atrophic) type accounts for 85-90% of macular degeneration cases. This is age related and no blood or serum leaks. Central vision remains good, usually 20/40 or better, but have trouble with inconsistent vision, reduced illumination, and difficulty reading due to their limited vision area.

The "wet" type affects the other 10-15% of those with macular degeneration. Abnormal blood vessels, (known as choroidal neovascularization or CNV) grow under the macula/retina and blood or leak other fluids, which lifts up the normally flat macula from its natural position, which disorts and destroys central vision often very quickly.

A blood spot under the macula creates a dark spot in the center of the patient's vision, along with the perception of lines waving when, in reality they are straight, peripheral vision usually unaffected

The CNV blood vessels come in two forms, classic, which typically affects those with vision prescriptions between 20/250-20/400 or worse, and the occult form, which is more common for those with vision between 20/80-20/200. Occult lesions do not have as much leakage as classic CNV.  

Risk factors include having more than five drusen, pigmental clumping,large drusen, or systematic hypertension. Those who have the "dry" form of macular degeneration do not experience the quick progression of the disease as those with the wet form do, however, it is possible for the dry form to turn into the wet form over time, which is why regular optometry exams as so important, so that your eye doctor can get you started on the best possible course of treatment.

With a deteriorated macula, images do not appear as they should. There are three stages of macular degeneration; early, middle and late. The average person will not be able to notice any problem when they are in the early stages, as the disease starts with yellow deposits behind the retina (drusen) which need to be identified by an eye doctor. Although some vision loss may be starting, it is highly possible that the vision loss won't be noticed until the disease has progressed into the later stages. When the condition progresses into the late stages, the person who suffers may be considered legally blind, even though they will still retain their peripheral vision, however this is not as clear as normal central vision.

Why People Get Macular Degeneration

In most cases, macular degeneration is diagnosed by a doctor of optometry in persons who are 55 or older, although some younger people are affected if they have Stargardt disease, which is caused by a recessive gene may develop it as well. In addition to getting older, other factors that play a role as to whether or not someone develops the disease or not. These include;

  • A family history
  • Being Caucasian, although those with other backgrounds can develop the condition too -- just not as often
  • Smoking- this will double the risk

What You Can Do About Macular Degeneration with Our Gahanna and Columbus Optometry Clinics

No cure has been developed so far for Macular Degeneration, so the best defense is to regularly visit optometrists in Columbus or Gahanna, Ohio who can  diagnose the condition as early as possible. When caught in the early stages, it is still possible for the person to and make lifestyle changes that will slow the disease's progression and slow the deterioration of their vision. This can be done with good nutrition, exercise, avoiding smoking, and keeping eyes protected from UV rays. Once you have a diagnosis, our eye doctors at Berk Eye Care Center at either of our locations in Columbus or Gahanna, we can recommend a course of treatment that may be able to help.

If you have any of the risk factors for macular degeneration, or notice any changes in your vision, it is especially important to visit the optometrists office on a regular basis. At Berk Eye Care Center, our optometrists can provide the diagnosis you need much earlier than you are likely to notice it yourself. Many people don't notice the symptoms until the late stages of the condition. Contact Berk Eye Care Center at our Columbus office at 614-866-9002 or our Gahanna Office at 614-476-2015 to schedule an exam.

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