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Can an Optometrist Treat Macular Degeneration?

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Macular degeneration is a common eye disease that can significantly affect your eye health and vision. Early diagnosis is key to protecting your eyesight. If you have macular degeneration, can your optometrist treat it? 

Continue reading to learn more about macular degeneration, including if an optometrist can help treat this disease. 

What Is Macular Degeneration? 

Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults. Also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), this condition occurs when the macula, the part of the eye responsible for your central (straightforward) vision, thins with age. AMD affects many daily tasks, such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces, affecting your quality of life. 

Because this disease only affects central vision, your side vision is generally left unaffected. Approximately 8% of the world’s population has symptoms of AMD, and nearly 11 million Americans have this disease. 

AMD has 2 variations that affect the eye differently, known as dry and wet AMD. 

Dry AMD

Dry AMD causes blurry or reduced central vision. This condition occurs due to the macula thinning with time. Dry AMD can affect one eye at first and eventually spread to the other. Vision loss can vary from mild to severe, depending on the person. 

If detected early enough, you can delay vision loss with help from the eye doctors at CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare. Dry AMD typically progresses with minimal symptoms until the later stages, where you may notice: 

  • Visual distortions
  • Reduced central vision
  • A need for brighter lights to see clearly
  • Difficulty seeing in low-light settings
  • Blurriness when reading
  • Faded colors
  • Trouble recognizing facial expressions
  • A blurry or blind spot in your vision 

Wet AMD

Wet AMD progresses from dry AMD. Around 20% of people with AMD have this variation of the disease. Wet AMD can develop in 2 different ways: abnormal blood vessel growth or fluid buildup. 

Abnormal blood vessel growth can occur in the eyes near the macula. These blood vessels can potentially break, leaking fluid into the macula and affecting vision. 

If fluid leaks from the eye, it can build in the retina, causing a bump in the macula. This bump can cause potential vision problems, such as vision loss or distorted sight. 

Wet AMD can be a potential eye emergency—visit the eye doctors at CHROMA immediately if you notice sudden changes in your central vision or lose the ability to see colors and fine details. 

What Causes Macular Degeneration? 

While the definite cause of AMD is still unknown, experts believe this disease occurs because of genetics and your environment

Macular Degeneration Risks

Anyone 55 and older is more likely to develop AMD, but other factors can increase your risk. Your likelihood of AMD increases due to your

  • Family history
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle

If you smoke or have a family history of AMD, remember to schedule your annual eye exams. The eye doctors at CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare can help determine if you have AMD or recommend ways to lower your risk. 

Regular exercise, quitting smoking, and a good diet can help reduce the risk of AMD. 

Can an Optometrist Treat Macular Degeneration? 

There is no cure for AMD, but our optometrists can treat this disease. Treating AMD involves monitoring its progression and preventing or slowing vision loss. Our eye doctors at CHROMA have several ways to do this, depending on the type of AMD. 

Treating Macular Degeneration

While there is no cure for AMD, there are several ways to manage this disease and help slow or prevent future vision loss. Research is currently ongoing into how optometrists can treat AMD, and more treatments may be available in the future. 

Management strategies differ for dry and wet AMD. 

A senior man's hand with AREDS 2 supplements ready to be taken.
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Treating Dry AMD

There is typically no way to treat or manage early-stage dry AMD, but our eye doctors can track changes to your eye health. They may recommend you make changes to your diet or exercise routine. 

As dry AMD progresses, our eye doctors may recommend dietary supplements to slow or prevent the later stage of this disease. These supplements are AREDS 2, which feature several vitamins and minerals, including: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin

Treating Wet AMD

Our eye doctors at CHROMA have several ways to prevent vision loss if you have wet AMD. They may recommend anti-VEGF injections or photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Anti-VEGF injections help slow vision loss by reducing bleeding and fluid leakage from the blood vessels in your eye. During treatment, your optometrist numbs and cleans the eye before injecting the medication with a fine needle. Patients typically need anti-VEGF injections monthly. 

PDT is a treatment involving injections and laser therapy. CHROMA’s optometrists use a medication called verteporfin that activates with a laser. 

They inject the medication into your arm and place a specialized contact on your eye after numbing the eye’s surface. Your eye doctor then shines a laser on the eye to help the verteporfin break down and treat abnormal blood vessels. 

CHROMA Eye Doctors Can Help Manage AMD

Macular degeneration is a significant risk to your eye health and vision, but your optometrist can help manage this disease. They can diagnose this disease as early as possible, recommend ways to lower your risk and provide a customized treatment plan to protect your vision. Schedule an appointment with CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare if you experience AMD-like symptoms or are at risk of this disease.

Written by Dr. Matt Barber

Dr. Matthew G. Barber began seeing patients at CHROMA in September of 2001. For almost two decades, Dr. Barber has worked diligently to provide cutting-edge eye care to the people of Fort Worth and its surrounding areas while providing a warm and friendly environment for his patients. He wanted to give the people of Fort Worth something unique and special, and so CHROMA was born.

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