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What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration typically occurs in people as they age, hence the term "age-related macular degeneration" (ARMD or AMD). There are two types: wet macular degeneration (exudative) and dry macular degeneration (atrophic). As people age, parts of the retina may deteriorate, particularly as retinal pigment levels diminish and protective layers are lost.


Macular degeneration affects the area of the retina called the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. A person with this condition has difficulty seeing detailed objects such as small print, faces, or street signs. New evidence demonstrates that Contrast Sensitivity, or the ability to discriminate between different shades of grey, becomes decreased prior to detectable vision loss.  As the disease progresses, affected areas of the macula often cause "scotomas," or small central areas of vision loss. These areas may cause objects to appear faded, disappear, or look distorted and straight lines may look wavy.  Peripheral vision is typically not affected and macular degeneration does not generally cause total blindness, but the effects are devastating nonetheless.  

Senior patient checking vision with spec
Woman Having Eyes Examined

Possible Causes and Risk Factors of Macular Degeneration

Although the cause of macular degeneration is not clear, possible causes and risk factors may include: reduction of macular pigment in the fovea area of the retina, lack of certain dietary intake of vitamins and minerals, breakdown in circulation to the retina, untreated health conditions such as high blood pressure, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, heredity, and cigarette smoking.

How is Macular Degeneration Treated?

Some medical foods and vitamin supplements have been proven helpful for macular degeneration.  

Advancements in anti-oxidant medical foods that can be prescribed by Dr. Conley to delay the onset or slow progression of AMD can be critical in visual outcomes for patients as they age.  Patients with even the earliest signs of wet or dry AMD or those who have family members who have already suffered visual reductions from AMD can benefit from medical food prescriptions.  

In wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels growing near the macula may leak or bleed. If this type is present, anti-VEGF injections by a Retina Specialist can reduce fluid accumulation and possibly restore some vision, but cannot repair scarring damage that has already occurred. It is therefore critical to detect Exudative (Wet) AMD in its earliest stages for best outcomes.  Conley Eye Care utilizes the latest imaging to detect early AMD and initiate treatment as early as possible. 

For patients with permanent vision loss from either type of macular degeneration can benefit from low vision rehabilitation. Optical devices can be prescribed to help you use your remaining vision more effectively.

Portrait of an Attractive Senior Woman
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