February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month and Our Optometrist at Optics&EYECARE wants to inform the Communities of Ashburn, Broadlands, Waxpool, Sterling, Brambleton, Lansdowne about this Condition

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is vision loss caused by deterioration of the center of your retina—the macula. This small area supports visual acuity supporting our ability to drive, read, recognize familiar faces, use computers and nearly any visual task requiring discrimination of fine details. Our Ashburn optometrist wants everyone to know that February is age-related macular degeneration month and urges everyone over 50 to get annual preventative eye exams from their eye doctors. AMD affects millions of older people and is one of the leading reasons for significant vision impairment in seniors.

Signs of Age-related Macular Degeneration

AMD is a slow, painless but progressive eye condition that interferes with your central vision by causing shadowy “blobs” or irregularly-bordered areas to distort vision. Because AMD occurs so gradually, many people aren’t aware they may be experiencing vision problems due to AMD and attribute it to aging. These dark spots appearing in your line of sight are produced by degradation of retinal cells that can no longer send light messages to the optic nerve.

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

In addition to aging, our Ashburn eye doctor will tell you that leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high blood pressure and certain genetic factors may contribute to increasing the risk of AMD. Side effects of medications such as anti-psychotic and anti-malarial drugs may also contribute to development of AMD.

Diagnosing AMD with Our Ashburn Optometrist

Diagnosis of AMD by Ashburn eye doctors requires a retinal examination and/or a fluorescein angiography for evaluating blood vessel health around the macula and within the eyes. In addition, you may be given an Amsler Grid assessment involving the use of a standard, straight-line grid with a white reference dot placed at the center of the grid. For people with macular degeneration, Amsler Grid lines may appear blurry or wavy. They may see dark spots in the center of the grid as well.

Dry and Wet Forms of AMD

The dry form of macular degeneration is much more common than the wet form of AMD. Nearly 90 percent of people diagnosed with AMD will be diagnosed with dry AMD. Signs of dry AMD include abnormally thin macular tissues and heavy deposits of yellow pigment called drusen within the central retina. Drusen are pieces of debris released by deteriorating macula tissue.

Wet (neovascular) macular degeneration comprises less than 10 percent of all AMD cases. With wet AMD, new blood vessels develop under the retina, leading fluid and blood into the retina and causing irreversible damage to retinal cells. When these cells die, they create blind areas within your central vision.

Eye Treatment for Macular Degeneration at Our Ashburn Optometry Clinic

Although no cure exists for AMD, some research suggests modifying your diet to include coldwater fish and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids could reduce your risk of AMD. Taking zeaxanthin and/or lutein supplements seems to increase pigment density within the macula, which has been correlated with protecting eyes from macular degeneration. Drugs meant to stop abnormal vessel growth seen in wet AMD patients include Eylea and Lucentis. Optometrists will evaluate your AMD to determine which treatment method best addresses your vision needs.

Engaging in preventative eye care by visiting our Ashburn eye doctor every year is the best way to detect AMD in its earliest stages. Call our Ashburn optometrist today at (703) 687-4719 to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Mohanan. Optics&EYECARE serves the surrounding communities of Ashburn, Broadlands, Waxpool, Sterling, Brambleton and Lansdowne.

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