Serving Edison and New Brunswick, New Jersey and all areas in Middlesex County, NJ
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 65. About 1.75 million Americans currently suffer from advanced age-related macular degeneration, and this number is predicted to increase to nearly 3 million by 2020.
The macula is a part of the retina, which gives us clear, sharp central vision for tasks such as reading or driving. Age-related macular degeneration, therefore, leads to central vision loss.
Two Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is diagnosed as ‘wet’ or ‘dry’:
- Wet (neovascular) macular degeneration refers to the growth of new blood vessels in the area of the macula where they should not be growing. These vessels may leak fluid and blood.
- Dry (non-neovascular) macular degeneration refers to the early stage of this disease, with thinning of the macular tissues and/or pigment deposits in the macula that indicate deteriorating tissue. Approximately 85-90% of all patients diagnosed with AMD suffer from the dry form.
A routine eye exam, including a thorough retinal exam, can detect AMD before you notice any symptoms, which generally include slow, painless vision loss. If eye doctors in Middlesex County, New Jersey, Dr. Hitesh K. Patel and Dr. Himanshu S. Shah suspect age-related macular degeneration is occurring, they may conduct a brief test using an Amsler grid to measure your central vision. The results of this test may show your central vision is distorted or fuzzy. The Amsler grid is a sensitive test that may reveal central vision loss before Dr. Patel and Dr. Shah see macular degeneration during the routine eye exam.
Dr. Patel and Dr. Shah may also order a test known as fluorescein angiography to more closely examine the retinal blood vessels surrounding the macula.
While the symptoms and vision loss associated with dry AMD are generally not as severe as with wet AMD, dry AMD can progress to late-stage geographic atrophy over time. Geographic atrophy is the gradual destruction of retinal cells that may also eventually lead to severe vision loss.
Other Factors in Macular Degeneration
While the senior population appears to be at greatest risk for the development of macular degeneration, other factors impact this disease as well. Genetics plays a part. Being white and female or having a family history of the disease also puts you at risk. Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and a high fat diet may also be factors. Certain prescription medications may put you at greater risk.
The best treatment for this disease is prevention. Taking care of your overall health plays an important role in caring for your precious eyesight. While studies are still being conducted, it appears omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, E and C, and the nutrients zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin may help to prevent macular degeneration.
Currently, treatment options are based on progression of the disease. For wet AMD, prescription drugs approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are aimed at stopping the development of abnormal blood vessels. These drugs seem to be most effective when used in combination with Photodynamic Therapy.
Although no studies yet prove a connection between overexposure to sunlight and the development of AMD, ophthalmologists generally agree it is wise to wear sunglasses with UV protection when outdoors.
Please contact our eye doctors in New Jersey today to schedule your initial macular degeneration treatment consultation at Patel Eye Associates, serving patients in Edison, New Brunswick, and Middlesex County, New Jersey.