Detecting Macular Degeneration in Overland Park

 What is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 60. Macular Degeneration affects the macula (the part of the retina responsible for detailed, central vision), which can make it very difficult to read, drive, and perform daily activities. Many people develop ARMD as part of the aging process. In fact, people between the ages of 65 and 75 have a 1-in-4 chance of developing ARMD, and the risk increases with age. Other risk factors for ARMD include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, UV exposure, and family history of the disease.

There are two forms of macular degeneration: Dry ARMD and Wet ARMD. Dry ARMD affects 90% of all people with macular degeneration. This form of the disease involves a thinning and deterioration of the macula – the portion of the retina responsible for clear, detailed vision. Dry ARMD often results in slow, painless loss of vision, although profound vision loss is uncommon with this form of the disease. Wet ARMD affects the other 10% of people with macular degeneration and is a much greater threat to vision. In this form of the disease, abnormal blood vessels grow toward the macula, often leaking blood and fluid into the eye.

Signs of Macular Degeneration

An eye exam may be able to detect early signs of the disease before symptoms appear. That is why it’s very important to have regular scheduled eye examinations to detect any of these signs as quickly as possible. The early signs of age-related Macular Degeneration are:

  • Slightly blurred central vision, both close up and far.
  • Center of vision may become fuzzy or shadowed. 
  • Straight lines may appear wavy.
  • Central vision loss can occur rapidly, sometimes within days or weeks.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

During the early stages of this disease, particularly if only one eye is affected, you may not have symptoms. It also causes no pain to your eyes that might suggest that something is wrong. Macular Degeneration can cause several symptoms that can affect your daily life:

  • Impaired depth perception- When there is an inability to properly judge distances, it can make walking harder, which can lead to missteps and falls.
  • Poor tolerance for changing light levels- There may be difficulty for your eyes to adjust when driving or when going from a well-lighted room to a darker one. The sun’s glare can make the problem worse. An example of this would be a bright stream of sunlight coming in through a window that makes everything outside the glare to “black out.”
  • Need for higher light levels- You might notice you a need for brighter light levels to complete normal every day tasks such as reading , cooking, etc.
  • Contrast sensitivity- You may have a hard time telling the difference between two colors of a similar hue when placed next to each other. It makes seeing textures and subtle changes in the environment harder, which can lead to accidents.
  • Visual field defect- The wide angle of vision that an eye can see is called the “visual field.” As this disease continues, the center of a person’s visual field may becomes distorted or lost completely. This condition can cause issues with recognizing faces, reading, watching television and driving a car.

Diagnosing & Treating Macular Degeneration

Although there is no cure for ARMD, there are treatment options available to help prevent progression of the disease. Recent studies indicate that antioxidant vitamins help slow the progression of Dry ARMD. Wet ARMD requires immediate attention to help prevent further vision loss and is often treated using laser surgery. In both forms of the disease, your doctor may recommend using an Amsler Grid to help monitor the progression of the disease and to watch for any changes in vision

Annual dilated eye examinations are imperative in the diagnosis and management of ARMD. Regular eye exams allow your optometrist to catch the disease early and to determine the treatment options that are best for you.

Schedule Your Eye Exam Today

If you are concerned you may be experiencing signs or symptoms of Macular Degeneration, give Overland Park Eye Center a call at (913) 345-2020 or Contact Us online to get your eye exam scheduled in the Overland Park and Kansas City area.  An optometrist may be able to detect early signs of the disease even before symptoms appear with regular eye examinations so start your healthy vision care today.