What is the Macula?
The macula is a small area in the center of the retina, accounting for about five percent of the retinal surface area. Its function is to see details of objects in the very center of your vision like the pages of a book or the screen you are currently reading. While focusing, the macula is of paramount importance to driving, using digital devices, reading, recognizing faces or colors, and seeing objects in fine detail.
What is Macular Degeneration?
When the vitally important cells of the macula deteriorate, images are not received correctly. Initially, one will notice a lack of clarity, blurred vision, or mild distortion. Drusen, tiny clumps of protein deposits, can be noted during your eye exam by Dr. Mendelsohn or Dr. Klein. Drusen are frequently a precursor to macular degeneration, but at times, they herald the onset of degenerative changes. The presence of macular drusen do not always signal a progression to macular degeneration, however, the finding of drusen signals that vigilance is imperative and that the preventive measures described below should be adhered to in order to prevent or minimize macular degeneration.
Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in Americans older than 50 years old. The disease reduces the quality of central vision, ranging from a mild loss to a devastating impairment in vision. With a comprehensive eye exam and both OCT (optical coherence tomography) and Optomap diagnostic testing, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn and Dr. Nathan Klein can detect macular degeneration, even at its incipient stages, before symptoms arise. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the sooner that treatment can be initiated, helping to preserve as much eyesight as possible. Optical Coherence Tomography uses light waves to non-invasively create exceedingly high resolution, cross-sectional images of the macula and adjacent ocular tissues, enabling our physicians to detect the onset of drusen, macular degeneration, or the progression of these entities at extremely early stages. Drs. Mendelsohn and Klein have the most technologically advanced and accurate OCT, the Zeiss Cirrus HD-OCT, at the office because the earliest detection and highest degree of accuracy is of paramount importance to all of us. In an amazing technological breakthrough, in-office, highly magnified digital images are produced by Optomap scanning laser technology of the back of both eyes, providing our physicians with an unparalleled 3-D view of the optic nerve, macula, retina, choroid, and retinal vasculature. The stellar ultra-widefield view of the eye enables the detection and management of disease including drusen, macular degeneration, and subretinal bleeding, thereby facilitating early protection from vision impairment or blindness. Very frequently, this OCT and Optomap testing will detect a problem well before you even know that there is any problem at all, thereby helping us to preserve your eyesight.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two forms of macular degeneration, Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration.
Dry AMD is the most common and is occurs when the macular tissue gets thinner with age, slowly degrading your central vision.
Wet AMD is much more serious than Dry AMD, and fortunately, far less common. Wet AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under your retina, called choroidal neovascular membranes. If those blood vessels leak, they will damage the macula, which will quickly impair your central vision.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
There are many factors at play with the development and progression of macular degeneration. Smoking, UV light exposure, blue light emissions from digital devices, lack of dietary intake of key ingredients necessary for macular health, and genetics are all scientifically proven risk factors.
Macular Degeneration Prevention
Dr. Alan Mendelsohn and Dr. Nathan Klein, by performing a comprehensive eye exam and OCT macular diagnostic test, can detect drusen which can be a precursor to macular degeneration. Both eye physicians are ardent believers in ocular preventive care and they have developed considerable expertise in these invaluable efforts, especially for preventing or greatly reducing vision loss from macular degeneration. Prevention is the key. Drs. Mendelsohn and Klein stress five areas of paramount importance in helping prevent or greatly minimize macular degeneration:
1. Stop smoking ASAP
2. Always wear sunglasses with UV400 blocker and polarization on both lens surfaces (over 90% of sunglasses provide zero to neligible protection)
3. AREDS 2 vitamins and/or dietary intake of key ingredients for macular health
4. Increase consumption of alpha omega 3 fatty acids, especially with eating salmon
5. Utilization of eyeglasses with blue blocker filtering blue light emissions from digital devices
Please view our blog for elaboration on these prevention steps advocated by Drs. Alan Mendelsohn and Nathan Klein. Macular degeneration can have a devastating impact on one’s quality of vision. Adhering to the aforementioned lifestyle changes can minimize the severity of, or even prevent, macular degeneration. As eye physicians who have seen patients with this malady for over 30 years, we are keenly aware of the wonderful benefit of preventive care. We know first-hand that these preventive maneuvers actually work because all of us have a considerable number of patients who have one or both parents and siblings clobbered by macular degeneration, while those adhering to these steps, have superb vision with a very healthy macula.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Prevention is the key. However, if macular degeneration is present, Alan Mendelsohn, M.D. and Nathan Klein, O.D. will diligently monitor your ocular health and condition, advising on treatment options if the need arises. Comprehensive eye exams and OCT and Optomap diagnostic tests, at appropriate intervals, are of paramount importance to vigilantly safeguard macular health and quality of vision.
Have you been diagnosed with macular degeneration? You have options. Please contact Eye Surgeons and Consultants of Hollywood, FL today to set up your appointment!