Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that is the leading cause of blindness for those aged 55 and older in the United States. The “macula” is the central portion of the retina, which is the inside back layer of the eye. The retina acts like the film in a camera. It records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for central, straight-ahead vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces and colors, and see objects in fine detail. Age Related Macular degeneration (ARMD) is deterioration of the normal macula.

There are several risk factors for ARMD. Some we can do nothing about, such as age, family history, gender, and race.  Others, we do have control over, such as nutrition, sunlight exposure, and smoking.

In October, 2002, results of the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) were released.  With what we know from AREDS and other studies, the accepted ways to avoid severe vision loss from ARMD include:

1. Don’t smoke. This is possibly the single most important step you can take.

2. Limit exposure to ultraviolet light by wearing a hat or visor and sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet light when outdoors.

3. If you have high blood pressure, keep it under control.

4. Be aware of the kinds of fats you eat in your diet.

For a number of years there has been speculation about the role of nutrition in preventing vision loss from Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD).  For more information, please click here.

When macular degeneration begins it is normally the “DRY” type. If it worsens over time it can become the “WET” type which is more serious.  It can be very helpful for anyone with macular degeneration to monitor their vision using an Amsler’s Grid.  Daily viewing of the grid pattern can alert you to sudden changes in your vision that can signal the onset of  the wet form of the condition.  If distortion is noted in an area of the grid as in the two examples below, it can often be treated if taken care of promptly.  If a grid is unavailable, a calendar or some other substitute can be used.

Please click here for a printable version of the AMSLER’S GRID

We hope this information is helpful. There are no guarantees and surely there is still much we don’t know about ARMD, but this is the best information we have at this time.

We can continue to monitor your eye health with state-of-the-art instrumentation.  Primarily we use digital photography and high-definition laser scanning topography instruments to document the condition for future comparison.  We also have available in Wichita some of the finest retinal care physicians in the country who are available for referral if worsening of the condition occurs.

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