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Is Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that progresses gradually, typically affecting adults over 50. This condition develops with very few early warning signs, and is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

Your macula is centrally located in the retina, and its primary function is providing precise, sharp details at the center of the visual field.

As we age, our macula naturally begins to deteriorate. When the macula breaks down, vision becomes blurry, dark spots may appear in the central vision, and color vision begins to fade,

Symptoms of AMD may only become apparent after the damage has occurred. Your central vision is crucial for day-to-day living, so diagnosing and managing this condition in its earliest stages is vital.

If you’re diagnosed with early-stage AMD, your optometrist can closely monitor visual health and provide various treatment options if the condition worsens.

There are 2 variations of AMD:

  • Dry AMD: This condition presents as the macula deteriorates slowly over time, eventually resulting in vision problems.
  • Wet AMD: When dry AMD is left untreated, it may develop into wet macular degeneration. This condition occurs when abnormal blood vessels form under your retina, causing fluid leakage from the macula.

Wet AMD develops more rapidly, and results in approximately 90% of AMD-related blindness. Wet AMD must be treated by a medical professional. It’s considered a medical emergency that can cause irreversible vision loss.

CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare uses cutting-edge technology, and our wealth of experience to help detect and diagnose macular degeneration in its earliest stages. If you have concerns about this eye disease, contact a member of our team today.

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Am I At Risk?

Scientists have determined that macular degeneration results from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. So yes, a family history of AMD means you’re at a higher risk of developing this condition.

Here are a few other risk factors to consider:

Optical Coherence Tomography & AMD

An Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) test is:

  1. Not something you want to say 10 times fast
  2. A fairly straightforward procedure

Your optometrist can use an OCT test to detect AMD in the early stages, allowing for proactive and preventative treatment options.

It helps to think of OCT as an ultrasound that uses light instead of sound waves to create a map of your eye. This non-invasive test uses light waves to take high-resolution, cross-section photos of your retina and optic nerve, providing a precise 3D image of the eye’s structure.

These images help our team scan for irregularities and measure the thickness of your retina, without making direct contact with your eyes.

The OCT Scan

Before your OCT scan, the optometrist may dilate your pupils using eye drops. This step helps ensure that your pupils remain dilated for the test. Following this, you’ll be asked to sit in front of the machine, rest your head on the support, and be encouraged to remain still. At CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare, we have state-of-the-art equipment and techniques and most patients don’t need to have eye drops for dilation.

Once you are correctly positioned, your optometrist instructs you to look into the machine’s lens, directly at a blinking target. While you focus on the target, the device scans your eye without physical contact. The test is complete in approximately 10 seconds.

If your optometrist used dilating eye drops before your exam, your eyes might feel sensitive to light for the next few hours.

How Else Can My Optometrist Test For AMD?

An OCT is the most straightforward way of diagnosing macular degeneration. Still, your optometrist may also diagnose AMD by reviewing your family and medical history, and performing various tests during your routine eye exam:

  • Eye Exam: Your optometrist uses drops to dilate your pupils, then examines the anterior of your eye for drusen (yellow deposits found under the retina). Retinal photos and OCT macular scanning can usually be performed without dilation using CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare’s state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Central vision testing: An Amsler grid may help your optometrist find problems in your central vision. Patients with AMD might see broken or distorted lines on a straight-lined Amsler grid.

Living With AMD

AMD is a common condition in older adults. Knowing you are high-risk due to genetic factors can be confusing and scary. Still, CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare is here to help you manage!

Being proactive with your eye care team can help prevent vision loss, so remembering these essential steps may improve quality of life and keep your vision clear and healthy for years to come:

  • Regular eye exams: If you’re at a higher risk for AMD, your optometrist may recommend eye check-ups at more frequent intervals.
  • Eat healthier foods: Consume foods high in antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Care for yourself: Follow your doctor’s instructions for any medical conditions, and closely follow your prescription dosages.
  • Get regular exercise: Increase your daily amount of active minutes.
  • Quit smoking: Speak to your doctor for assistance with quitting smoking.

Here When You Need Us

If you’re looking for a compassionate and experienced eye care team, you’ve come to the right place. CHROMA modern Eyewear Eyecare is always ready to help; whenever you need us, we’re here.

If you have questions about AMD-related vision loss, are concerned about your family history with eye disease, or feel it’s time to book your next eye exam, give us a call today.

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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