Eye1st Vision & Laser Center
As the population ages, we are experiencing an increase in age-related macular degeneration cases at our Atlanta and Duluth eye care centers. AMD is a common eye disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. In some people, age-related macular degeneration advances so slowly that it will have little effect on their vision as they age. But in others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes.
The retina is a paper-thin tissue that lines the back of the eye and sends visual signals to the brain. In the middle of the retina is a tiny area called the macula. The macula is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that help to produce central vision. AMD occurs in two forms:
The greatest risk factor is age. Although AMD may occur during middle age, studies show that people over age 60 are clearly at greater risk than other age groups. For instance, a large study found that people in middle age have about a two percent risk of getting AMD, but this risk increased to nearly 30 percent in those over age 75.
Other Age-related Macular Degeneration risk factors include:
Neither dry nor wet AMD cause any pain. The most common early sign of dry AMD is blurred vision. As loss of function in macular cells progresses, people experience gradual loss of central vision. Often this blurred vision will go away in brighter light. Eventually, there will be a small, but growing blind spot in the middle of the field of vision.
The classic early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear crooked. This is similar to the effect of looking through a fun-house mirror. This is caused by leaking blood from the damaged vessels lifting the macula. There may also be a small blind spot in wet AMD cases, causing central vision loss.
If you believe you have symptoms of age-related macular degeneration, contact either of our offices for an appointment or complete the appointment form online. We are located in Duluth (Johns Creek area). Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial.
You are at risk to develop AMD if you are over age 60 and have had recent changes in your central vision. To look for signs of the disease, Dr. Waring will use eye drops to dilate, or enlarge, your pupils. Dilating the pupils allows us a better view of the back of the eye. You may also be asked to view an Amsler grid, a pattern that looks like a checkerboard. Early changes in your central vision will cause the grid to appear distorted, a sign of AMD.
No treatment currently exists for dry AMD, but it has been suggested that taking certain vitamins and minerals, such as lutein, zeazanthin and zinc, may slow the progress of the disease. Dr. Waring will discuss these options and his recommendations at your visit if you experience this type of macular degeneration.
Dr. Waring can treat some cases of wet age-related macular degeneration with FDA-approved laser surgery. He will discuss the procedure with you in detail at your visit.