The leading cause of vision loss among patients over 65 is macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD. Without treatment, this condition causes severe central vision loss. Because of our unwavering commitment to the most advanced technology and treatment strategies, patients who visit Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center for eye care in Stockton, can rest assured that they are receiving the most effective care available for this serious disease. Our doctors want to help you enjoy your life and have better vision.
The macula is the central region of the retina on the inner surface of the eye. This surface is responsible for collecting high-resolution central vision images and transmitting them to the brain. In patients affected by macular degeneration, this surface gradually thins and deteriorates, and without treatment, it may destroy central vision completely.
Stages of Macular Degeneration
In the early stage, known as dry macular degeneration, the disease is asymptomatic but can be identified by your eye doctor during an examination through the presence of yellow deposits, called drusen, on the macula. Because a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to identify early-stages, regularly scheduled appointments at Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center are crucial. Therefore, individuals at risk should be sure to have regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
If the disease progresses and the macula deteriorates, patients begin to experience increasingly blurry and distorted vision. Straight lines sometimes appear crooked or broken and their vision may also appear shadowed or dim. Ultimately, only about 10 percent of macular degeneration cases progress to the wet form. In this stage new blood vessels form inside the eye, leaking fluid and blood under the macula and causing rapid central vision loss.
The medications prescribed for macular degeneration treatment are called anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medications. These medications inhibit the development of abnormal blood vessels in the eyes, slowing the progression of the disease.
Laser photocoagulation surgery is the only surgical treatment currently available. This procedure involves treating retinal blood vessels with laser energy to remove them. It is only safe to treat leaking vessels that are not too close to the macula. This treatment is only appropriate for about 20 percent of patients.