Sunday, November 18, 2018
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Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration or Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common disease and the leading cause of vision loss in Americans age 50 and over. The degeneration damages the macula, a small dip near the center of the retina that focuses your fine central vision. This small spot is responsible for your sharp focused image, while the rest of your retina is responsible for your peripheral vision. While AMD does not lead to complete loss of vision or blindness, the loss of your central vision can severely debilitate your ability to do everyday things like reading, writing and driving. 

Macular Degeneration

There are three stages of AMD, early, intermediate, and late. These stages are largely diagnosed by the number and size of drusen. In the early stages, the drusen are typically medium sized, and patients do not report vision loss. Intermediate AMD is characterized by large drusen, retinal pigment changes or both and while vision loss is possible, it is not widely reported. In the late state of AMD, in addition to drusen, patients have vision loss. The late state is split into geographic AMD and neovascular AMD. Geographic AMD is referred to as "Dry" and is the result of light sensitive cells in the macula breaking down resulting in vision loss. Neovascular AMD is referred to as "Wet" because new blood vessels begin to grow, and as they are not structurally sound begin to leak fluid and blood onto the macula. This can cause swelling and damage, and patients often report a shimmer effect that feels like they are looking through glass, or water. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your eye care specialist as soon as possible!

Macular Degeneration

Older Caucasians, those who smoke, those with poor nutrition and those who do not wear sun protection are at the most risk for developing AMD. While there is no cure for for AMD there are many treatments to help slow the loss of vision, and preventative vitamins to take that reduce the risk. Dr O'Connor does not perform surgeries or procedures, but she does work closely with many ophthalmologists and will refer you for any surgery or procedure you may need. 

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