Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration—sometimes called age-related macular degeneration or AMD—causes damage to the part of the eye that’s responsible for central vision. It tends to affect people in later life, usually those over 65, although symptoms can occur during your 50s or early 60s. It doesn’t necessarily cause total blindness, but it can affect both near and far vision and, if left untreated, can severely impact everyday activities, such as reading and recognizing faces. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Around 90% of all those affected suffer from the former. In Dry AMD, sometimes called non-neovascular AMD or non-exudative AMD, the macular (part of the retina) becomes progressively thinner, causing visual changes that include blurring, decreased central vision, reduced intensity of colors, and less ability to focus in low light.

Before Macular Degeneration Treatment

Your vision is blurry with shadowy spots towards the center of the eye.

After Macular Degeneration Treatment

You no longer see shadowy spots and vision is improved.

How Do I Know if I Need to Find a Macular Degeneration Doctor Near Me?


The natural aging process means that pretty much anyone over the age of 50 will have minor deterioration within the macular. Dry macular degeneration causes deterioration of the retina that forms small deposits beneath the macula. These are called “drusen”. It causes the macula to thin and dry—most people aged 50+ will have at least one small drusen. Very often the condition doesn’t progress past this stage and there will be little or no symptoms.

This is one reason that everyone aged over 50 might need the services of a macular degeneration specialist. During the early stages, there may be no noticeable, or very minimal, signs.

The condition affects central vision (not peripheral) and can be in one or both eyes. Some of the early signs include:

  • A blurred or distorted area in the center of your vision
  • Colors appearing less bright that
  • Straight lines appear to be wavy or crooked
  • Objects seem smaller than normal
  • Hallucinations

If the early stages are detected during a routine eye exam, it’s vital for the condition to be regularly monitored. There are many tests an ophthalmologist might use to determine any progression, such as:

  • Sight tests: These involve looking at a grid (called an Amsler grid) that’s made up of straight lines. If any are missing or appear crooked or wavy, this can be a sign of macular degeneration.
  • An angiography or OCT: Dye will be injected into the eye and your macular degeneration specialist follows it’s progression through the blood vessels of the eye.

Macular degeneration, especially those with advanced stages of dry AMD or have progressed into wet AMD will need the services of an expert in the treatment of the condition. Searching for the best eye doctors for macular degeneration near me is one of the top online searches for those who need treatment. However, it’s suggested that location alone shouldn’t determine your choice: far better to choose a clinician with whom you feel comfortable and can offer the most advanced treatments as the condition progresses—including cutting-edge procedures that may not be available everywhere.

What Happens During Macular Degeneration Surgery?


Surgery for macular degeneration depends on the type you have dry AMD is more usually treated with visual aids, dietary choices, and vitamin supplements.

Wet AMD can be treated with eye injections, photodynamic therapy/laser surgery.

  • Eye injections: Your eye will be numbed before treatment so you don’t feel anything or have only minimal discomfort. The injections are given directly into the eye every 1 or 2 months (or for as long as needed). The success rate is high, preventing further deterioration in 9 out of 10 people. 3 out of 10 find their vision improves.
  • Photodynamic therapy/laser surgery: This is used to seal or destroy the blood vessels that have formed behind the retina. This is sometimes used in conjunction with eye injections and is repeated every few months. There are two types of laser treatment—hot laser and cold laser. The hot treatment seals the abnormal vessels and discourages further growth. Cold lasers will be used if there’s an opportunity to destroy the vessels.

Hot laser treatment can cause a tiny blind spot in your vision as it can affect the surrounding tissue, as well as the abnormal vessels. However, if this occurs most people adapt well and learn to ignore it.

Cold laser treatment is used for vessels that have formed in or near the very center of the macula. It doesn’t hurt the surrounding tissue.

Both procedures are carried out under local anesthetic, with drops and/or injections being used to numb the eye. The laser is then aimed at the blood vessels to treat, seal, and/or destroy them. With cold laser treatment, a light-reactive drug will be injected into your arm, and the laser will be used when this moves through your cardiovascular system and reaches the eye. The light (laser) reacts with the drug to close the leaking vessels.

Post-procedure it’s usual to have temporary vision problems and you’ll need to avoid bright sunlight. Your macular degeneration specialist will advise on the exact length of recovery time and how to take care of yourself before returning to normal activities.

How Does WBEC Provide the Macular Degeneration Treatment?


The West Boca Eye Center offers some of the most advanced treatments for all kinds of macular degeneration. Run by one of the country’s leading eye specialists, Brent Bellotte MD., the WBEC is an advanced diagnostic and treatment facility that provides a one-stop location for all eye services.

Bellotte has played a pivotal role in bringing laser treatments to the mainstream and is renowned around the globe for his work in this field. As technology advances, so do treatments for macular degeneration. Boca Raton based, the clinic is a convenient location for anyone who lives in South Florida. Such is Dr. Bellotte’s reputation, many choose to travel from across the nation to take advantage of his expertise.

Whatever form of macular degeneration you suffer from, choosing to be cared for by the WBEC means that your condition will be expertly monitored and treated. The academic level of treatment means that cutting-edge treatments are routinely offered here well before they become mainstream. When it comes to the care of your precious eyesight, those in the hands of Brent Bellotte and his macular degeneration team benefit from advances in technology as soon as they become available.

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What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is a disease caused by damage to the macula, the small part of the eye’s retina responsible for central vision. This condition affects both distance and close vision and is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 65.

What are the symptoms?

Blurred vision is a key symptom. Abnormality where straight lines appear wavy or seeing spots.

How is it treated?

Specific vitamins and minerals may reduce disease progression. Surgery may be necessary.

What are macular degeneration symptoms?

Macular degeneration can affect one or both eyes. It affects the central area of your vision, beginning with distortion or blurred sight. The peripheral areas will remain clear.

Other symptoms include:

  • Straight lines start to appear crooked or wavy
  • Colors are less vibrant
  • Objects might appear smaller
  • Dark or blurry areas (or even a whiteout) appears in the center of your vision

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a disease caused when the macula (a part of the retina) becomes damaged. This causes issues with your central vision, meaning that you lose definition in the middle of your eyesight but the peripheral vision remains normal. For example, you might be able to look at a clock and see the numbers around the outside but the hands might be blurred or completely blocked.

There are two forms, dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. There is also a type of juvenile macular degeneration, known as Stargardt disease.

Macular degeneration usually affects those aged 50+ (with those over 65 most at risk). Dry macular degeneration is the most common (90% of cases). It’s often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because it tends to progress as we age. The dry form of AMD is very common and is one of the leading causes of vision impairment if left unchecked or treated.

While common, dry AMD often doesn’t progress. But in 10% of people, it can deteriorate into wet AMD. This is when new, abnormal blood vessels form behind the retina and lead blood and fluid into the eye. In such cases, laser surgery can be effective in halting the progression of the disease.

What causes macular degeneration?

The exact causes of macular degeneration remain unknown. Studies have shown links to high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, and a family history of the disease. Research is continually ongoing.

What is the macular degeneration test?

Testing for macular degeneration includes the Amsler grid eye test. This is a grid made up of straight lines. If you suffer from the disease you might see some of the lines appear wavy or crooked. There might also be elements of the grid that seem to be missing.

If your ophthalmologist diagnoses the beginnings of AMD (age-related macular degeneration) you’ll be asked to test your vision at home regularly using this visual acuity aid. If there are any changes then you’ll need to contact your eye doctor for further testing.

Is macular degeneration hereditary?

While research into macular degeneration is ongoing, it appears that there is a hereditary element. Several genes have been discovered that lead to people developing the disease, and it’s more common in Caucasians. 

However, there isn’t yet definitive proof that it is hereditary. It’s estimated that around 15-20% of people who develop AMD have a close relative with the condition. This makes it very important for anyone with a family history of the condition to undergo regular eye exams, especially after the age of 45 when the condition tends to begin to develop.

What’s the best macular degeneration prevention?

While there are no definitive steps to take that will guarantee you don’t develop macular degeneration, there are many things you can do to lower your risk. Most of these are lifestyle choices.

 

  • Don’t smoke: The retina has a high oxygen consumption. Any act that reduces the flow of this can affect vision. The damage caused to the body by smoking is thought to contribute to the development and formation of macular degeneration
  • Eat a healthy diet: Reducing your intake of high-fat, high-sugar foods and eating more vegetables and low glycemic foods (oatmeal, whole grain bread, etc) are believed to reduce the chances of developing AMD.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure: Both obesity and hypertension can restrict oxygen flow to the retina.
  • Take regular exercise: Exercise improves cardiovascular health and therefore the amount of oxygen available to the retina

 

Reduce sun exposure: Some research suggests a link between sun exposure and AMD. Protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses when outside.

What are the earlier signs of macular degeneration?

In the very early stages, there may be no symptoms. As the disease progresses you might experience blurred areas in the very center of your vision, a decrease in the brightness of colors, lowered vision in dimly-lit environments, and straight lines might appear wavy.

What is macular degeneration of the eye?

Macular degeneration is a disease that causes loss of central vision. The part of the retina called the macula is affected, and it means that you lose the ability to see fine details, but the peripheral (side) areas of vision remain normal.

There are two types; wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration is far more common (around 90% of cases). While there is a form of juvenile macular degeneration, it’s more commonly an age-related condition (aged 50+). Most sufferers are aged 65 years and over.