Macular Degeneration Eye Exams from Olympus Eye Associates in Murray, Utah

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Macular Degeneration

As the name implies, macular degeneration, is a degenerative disease that damages the macula - the most sensitive part of the retina responsible for central vision. The disease exists in two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is by far the most common (roughly 90% of all cases). It is also the milder of the two forms, develops gradually, and usually only leads to minor vision loss. Dry macular degeneration tends to occur when yellow fatty particles called drusen accumulate in the retina underneath the macula. This build-up results in thinning and drying-out of the macular cells. Wet macular degeneration is less common, but the vast majority of severe vision loss cases result from this form. First, abnormal blood vessels form underneath the surface of the retina. Leakage of blood and other fluids from these blood vessels permanently damage the outside cells (which detect incoming light). As these cells are damaged, vision is lost.

The primary cause of macular degeneration remains unknown. Macular degeneration typically occurs more frequently in the aging population with patients over 60. Research has shown there are many other factors such as family history, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and/or a high cholesterol, high fat diet that may contribute towards the development of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration symptoms may include:

  • Shadows, blurriness, or holes in the center of vision.
  • Straight lines appear wavy.
  • Trouble seeing details both up close and at a distance.
  • Vision can be slow to come back after bright light exposure.
  • Difficulty telling colors apart, especially ones close in hue.

Treatment for macular degeneration:

  • Eye Vitamins: A large national study completed by the National Eye Institute (a part of the NIH) found a specific formulation of nutritional supplements reduced the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. This study was called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), and a follow up study (AREDS2) further refined the formulation. These vitamins are recommended for patients with dry macular degeneration (intermediate stage, or worse) and wet macular degeneration.
  • Anti-angiogenesis Drugs: These inhibit proteins which contribute to abnormal blood vessel growth. They are known as anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs. There are a variety of drugs that can be applicable for this purpose, some FDA approved, and some off-label (officially approved for a different application).

Macular Degeneration Eye Exam

Our Utah eye doctors take a holistic look at your eye health to construct a personalized treatment plan that will meet your needs, address any macular degeneration symptoms, and ensure your vision health for years to come. We perform a comprehensive macular degeneration eye health screening, which allows us to diagnose and address eye conditions at the earliest sign. Early detection lets us begin corrective measures in time to prevent additional deterioration.