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Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss for people 60 years and older. Because it usually happens as a person ages, it's known as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. This disease causes damage to a small spot in the center of the eye, known as the macula. This is the central portion of the retina, the part of the eye that senses light. The most common early symptom is a blurred area in the center of your vision, preventing you from seeing clearly straight ahead. If left untreated, you can develop blank spots in the center of your vision. AMD doesn't cause complete blindness, but it can affect your ability to read, to drive, or even to work effectively.
Age is the biggest factor in determining who will develop AMD, but there are other risk factors, including:
Researchers have found solid links between progressing AMD and a healthy lifestyle. Our Shreveport ophthalmology team suggests making healthy changes to your life including quitting smoking, maintaining normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet that includes fish and green, leafy vegetables.
There are often little to no symptoms in the earlier stages of AMD. The only way for our doctors to detect the disease is through a thorough dilated eye examination. The doctor will put drops in your eyes, which will dilate your pupils and make it easier for the doctor to see inside your eye. He'll then look at your optic nerve and retina for signs of macular degeneration. If there are signs of early AMD, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop later stages that can affect your eyesight. Not every patient does. It does mean that it's doubly important for you to come in for eye examinations on a regular basis so our doctor can monitor your progress.
Patients with early AMD need no treatment, and should only watch for changes in their eyesight. If you develop symptoms that crop up in the later stages, you may benefit from certain nutritional supplements. Researchers are finding that certain doses of vitamins and minerals are shown to slow the progress of the disease. For the most severe cases of macular degeneration, our doctors can treat you with laser surgery or injections.
If you have any questions about macular degeneration, or AMD, call the Shreveport Eye Clinic at 318-861-4009. We'll be happy to answer any questions or make an appointment that fits in with your schedule.