Knowledgeable, experienced treatment
The macula is an oval-shaped spot near the center of the eye’s light sensitive tissue called the retina.
Macular degeneration occurs when your retina’s center degrades, which causes a progressive loss of vision. It can lead to loss of the central field of vision. Risk of macular degeneration increases considerably after age 60 although certain conditions, such as high-blood pressure can increase risk.
As part of his eye exam, Dr. O’Donnell checks for signs of macular degeneration and recommends treatment to prevent or slow its progression. Dr. O’Donnell has extensive training and experience in detecting and treating macular degeneration.
Dry vs. Wet Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.
Dry macular degeneration is caused by deposits in the macula. It can lead to tissue death in the macula, and in advanced stages, loss of central vision.
Wet macular degeneration is usually caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the region of the macula. These abnormal blood vessels eventually scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.
State-of-the-art testing to detect macular degeneration
Regular eye examinations are important because they can detect macular degeneration early and thus help prevent the permanent loss of your central vision. Dr. O’Donnell will conduct tests during your comprehensive eye examination to check for macular degeneration.
The state-of-the-art procedures that Dr. O’Donnell uses to detect macular degeneration include:
Back of your eye exam: Dr. O’Donnell will examine the back of your eye to look for a mottled appearance. First Dr. O’Donnell will put drops in your eyes to dilate them. Then he’ll use a special instrument to examine the back of your eyes.
Test for defects in the center of your vision: Dr. O’Donnell uses an Amsler grid to test for defects in the center of your vision. If some of the straight lines in the Amsler grid appear broken, distorted or faded then you may have macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration treatment
There are no medical treatments for dry macular degeneration. It usually progresses slowly, however, and many people can live relatively normal lives. This is especially true if just one eye is affected. Dr. O’Donnell may recommend certain supplements recommended by the National Eye Institute to slow the condition’s progress.
Wet macular degeneration cannot be permanently cured. If diagnosed early, however, treatment can help slow the progress of wet macular degeneration and thus reduce the amount of vision lost. Wet macular degeneration can be treated with medications, proteins, photodynamic therapy and sometimes, laser surgery.
Dr. O’Donnell will recommend the best course of action for you and will personally perform or oversee all treatment. He and our staff really care about your eye health and will take the time to educate you and answer any questions you have.
Macular degeneration symptoms
Macular degeneration has many symptoms. A good rule of thumb is to see an eye care expert like Dr. O’Donnell if you notice changes in your central vision or if your ability to see colors and fine detail becomes impaired. These changes might be the first indication of macular degeneration, especially if you’re over age 50.
Dry macular degeneration symptoms typically develop gradually. You may notice these changes in your vision:
- Crooked central vision
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Increasing blurriness of printed words
- Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels
- Decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
- Needing brighter light when doing close work or reading
- A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
- A gradual increase in the haziness of your central or overall vision
- Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in case of advanced macular degeneration
Wet macular degeneration symptoms usually appear and progress rapidly. Symptoms may include:
- Decreased central vision
- Abrupt onset with rapid worsening
- Decreased intensity or brightness of colors
- Well-defined blurry or blind spot in your field of vision
- Visual distortions like straight lines appearing crooked, a street sign looking lopsided or objects appearing smaller or farther away than they really are
- Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in cases of advanced macular degeneration