Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, particularly age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults. It involves the deterioration of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision. This condition can severely affect daily activities such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces. 

As macular degeneration progresses, management becomes more difficult. The best way to prevent AMD-related vision loss and keep your vision is with early detection and treatment. When you book an eye exam with Tonic Eye Care, we use the latest imaging techniques to check your retina for signs of AMD. With regular check-ups and treatment, we can help you manage vision loss and see clearly for longer.

Dry Macular Degeneration - Tonic Eye Care

Types of Macular Degeneration

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the more common form, accounting for about 80-90% of AMD cases. It occurs when the macula thins over time as part of the aging process and develops clumps of protein, called drusen, leading to gradual vision loss. In its early stages, it may not cause noticeable symptoms, but as it progresses, central vision can become blurred, and fine details become difficult to see.

Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is less common but more severe. It happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak blood or fluid, causing rapid damage to the macula. This form of AMD can lead to sudden and severe vision loss. Early detection and treatment are crucial to slow the progression and minimize vision loss.

Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration often progresses without early warning signs. However, as it advances, individuals may notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fuzzy vision
  • Dark or empty areas in the center of the visual field
  • Difficulty recognizing faces
  • Straight lines appearing wavy or distorted (a condition known as metamorphopsia)
  • Diminished colour perception
Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration - Tonic Eye Care
Age Related Macular Degeneration - Tonic Eye Care

Who is Most at Risk?

Several factors can increase the risk of developing AMD, including:

  • Age: People over 60 are at higher risk.
  • Genetics: A family history of AMD can increase the likelihood.
  • Smoking: Smoking significantly raises the risk of AMD.
  • Race: Caucasians are more prone to develop AMD than other races.
  • Diet and Lifestyle: A diet high in saturated fat, obesity, and high blood pressure can also contribute to the risk of AMD.

Diagnosing Macular Degeneration

We use a variety of advanced methods to detect macular degeneration, all with the central goal of getting a good view of your retina. Your optometrist might use pupil dilating drops to widen the opening in your eye so they can see your retina using a specialized lens.

We also use imaging technology to get a detailed scan of your retina. These images provide a high-definition view of the state of your retina so we can see any degenerative changes that may be occurring.

Your optometrist might also get you to look at an Amsler grid. This grid helps you notice distortions, blurring, or blank spots that might be forming in your field of view. This lower-tech method can provide valuable insight into the progression of AMD and help you better understand your vision better.

What to Expect During an Eye Exam?

During your eye exam, you can expect to undergo a variety of visual tests, imaging, and structural assessments to test for things like:

  • Visual acuity
  • Peripheral vision
  • Eye pressure
  • Retinal imaging
  • Eye muscle function
  • Pupil reaction

Most of these tests are not specific to diagnosing macular degeneration, but they help to paint a comprehensive picture of the state of your eye health so we can provide the best care possible. 

During your eye exam, your optometrist will likely administer pupil dilating drops. It is important to remember that these drops can cause blurred vision for several hours after the appointment. Driving is dangerous during this time, so please arrange for safe transportation home from your appointment.

Eye Exams For Senior Citizens - Tonic Eye Care

How We Treat Macular Degeneration

Treatment for macular degeneration is limited and depends on the type of AMD and the stage of degeneration. Only dry macular degeneration currently has treatment options. 

During early-stage AMD, the best course of action is to adjust your lifestyle to prevent further progression and vision loss. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and exercising regularly can help slow progression.

Intermediate-stage AMD can be treated using certain medications and/or dietary supplements. Your optometrist and ophthalmologist will help you understand your options for vision therapy and work with you to ensure you receive individualized care.

Unfortunately, for now, there is no treatment for late-stage macular degeneration. Scientists are hard at work to find treatment options, and our team at Tonic Eye Care is constantly keeping up to date on the latest recommendations and best practices. 

Managing Macular Degeneration 

A major part of treating and managing macular degeneration involves working with the vision that patients still have. Making lifestyle changes can help slow progression, and working with visual aids can help make adapting to life with AMD easier.

Managing macular degeneration involves adopting a proactive approach to slow its progression and adapting to the changes in vision. Here are some practical lifestyle changes and visual aids that can help improve the quality of life for those with macular degeneration:

Practical Lifestyle Changes

Healthy Diet:

  • Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as leafy green vegetables, berries, and nuts, can help protect your eyes from further damage. Include spinach, kale, and broccoli in your diet.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can support eye health.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Ensure you get enough vitamins C and E, zinc, and copper. These nutrients can be found in citrus fruits, almonds, and beans.
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These carotenoids are beneficial for eye health and can be found in foods like corn, eggs, and green leafy vegetables.

Avoid Smoking:

  • Smoking significantly increases the risk of macular degeneration. Quitting smoking can help slow the progression of the disease and improve overall eye health.

Exercise Regularly:

  • Regular physical activity can improve blood circulation, which is beneficial for eye health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking or cycling, most days of the week.

Manage Blood Pressure and Cholesterol:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol can contribute to the progression of macular degeneration. Regular check-ups and a healthy diet can help keep these levels in check.

Protect Your Eyes from UV Light:

  • Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays to protect your eyes from sun damage. Look for wraparound styles for maximum coverage.

Visual aids like sunglasses, prescription lenses, magnifying stands and magnifying spectacles can help make it easier to manage visual impairment. Environmental changes and devices like increasing text size, using audible announcements, and working with computers and tablets can make the world around you easier to adapt to. 

Importance of Routine Eye Exams - Tonic Eye Care

The Importance of Routine Eye Exams

As with most eye diseases and degenerative management, regularly checking your eyes is a crucial part of slowing the progression of vision loss and detecting changes early. Routine eye exams allow your optometrist to better track your visual impairment and help you better understand your options for treatment and management. 

Book an Appointment

Contact Tonic Eye Care today to schedule a regular check-up or book a consultation about any AMD-related concerns. The team at Tonic Eye Care is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for our patients. For more advanced visual concerns like AMD, we can help refer you to local ophthalmologists so you can have a team of professionals on your side to help keep your vision clear.

Contact Tonic Eye Care