Macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible severe vision loss and blindness.
By 2050, it is projected that the incidence of diagnosed macular degeneration will double to 22 million. The prevalence of this disease may be more than we know. Recent reports reveal that approximately 25% of patients after having a dilated eye examination had macular degeneration that was undiagnosed.
Sadly, by the time patients are diagnosed with macular degeneration, 78% have already suffered irreversible vision loss. Early detection of macular degeneration through a reliable eye care center with the latest diagnostic tools is essential to retaining healthy vision.
Texas Macular Degeneration Associates, Inc.
We provide our patients with the most comprehensive eye exam utilizing the latest in eye care technology for the detection, management, and treatment of macular degeneration.
Earlier detection of this very serious eye disease means earlier treatment, better patient outcomes and prevention of visual acuity loss.
Early Detection Benefits Patients of Any Age
Although macular degeneration is more common in patients above the age of 50, the disease can occur in younger patients. We can detect early signs of macular detection and further evaluate each of our patients risk factor for the disease with new advances in genetic testing. We've developed treatment plans in the form of nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes to minimize the effects of macular degeneration, improve the quality of one’s life, and preserve their vision.
What are the early signs of Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration causes loss of central vision and if not detected early can lead to permanent visual impairment and blindness. It is a major health problem and is more prevalent than glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy combined.
Today eye doctors are missing macular degeneration 25% of the time even in a dilated eye examination. By the time its structurally detected in an examination, 78% of those patients have already suffered irreversible vision loss in one eye, and nearly half of them are legally blind with 20/200 vision in one or both eyes.
We are passionate in saving sight and preventing blindness. Our team of eye doctors invest in the latest technology and participate in continuing education. Through our commitment and expertise, we have formed a center of excellence for macular degeneration detection and management.
Who Should Be Concerned About Macular Degeneration
We feel that everybody should be concerned and aware of the risks and methods to prevent macular degeneration, especially those who:
- Have a family history of macular degeneration
- Have problems with night vision or vision in low light environments
- Have problems reading in dim light
- Smoke, have smoked in the past or have been exposed to a lot of secondary smoke
- Are obese
- Are inactive and have poor dietary intake(lacking fruits, vegetables and vitamins)
- Don’t wear sunglasses
- On an exam have visible structural yellow spots on the macula called drusen (by this time the disease has been around for many years).
- Who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart problems and or elevated cholesterol
Today eye doctors are missing macular degeneration 25% of the time in an a dilated eye examination and by the time its structurally detected and diagnosed and detected 78% of those patients have already suffered irreversible vision loss in one eye and nearly half of them are legally blind with 20/200 vision in one or both eyes.
You might be asking;
”What purpose does this test have if you can’t stop it or can’t cure it?’”
Here are some reasons:
- Finding out a patient has macular degeneration early empowers the patient with knowledge and prepares them to make changes I n their life now that can slow the disease down or at least prepare the patient for vision loss in the future so they can adjust their life plans. Finding out that you need to battle a serious condition for the rest of your life is a hard pill to swallow. But early detection with the appropriate lifestyle changes can mean the difference as the disease progresses between becoming legally blind (best corrected visual acuity 20/200) and much better best corrected vision.
- Monitoring the patient with at risk suspected macular degeneration or early subclinical macular degeneration every 3-6 months allows for detection of changes related to progression of the disease. At this point, adjustments in the treatment plan can be made by the doctor in addition to coaching the patient to become more compliant in their treatment plan. Let’s face it as human beings we are inherently lazy and most patients are less than perfect in following doctor’s orders.
- Follow up care is not only important for the detection of changes before further vision loss occurs but those visits with the doctor and the staff function like a coaching session giving the patient encouragement and preventing them from feeling alone and frightened. Ultimately an informed patient will take more ownership of his or her wellness.
- Macular degeneration is frightening disease; ask any patient who has been diagnosed with it. It’s like a death sentence and the fear of going blind is unimaginable to one who doesn’t have it. Fact is the number one fear people have is going blind.
- Most macular degeneration is dry but 15-20% advance to a more serious level called wet macular degeneration. The earlier the wet form of the disease is detected the better chances minimizing vision loss. A finding of a choroidal neovascular membrane (CNV)) requires immediate treatment and surgical intervention.
Frequently Asked Questions about Macular Degeneration
What is the connection between macular degeneration and dark adaptation?
When the cells in the macula become functionally sick and compromised clinical research has shown it has an effect on the eyes ability to dark adapt and is the first biomarker of subclinical macular degeneration years before it shows up in the eye as physical structural changes.
What do you mean by functional and physically structural?
A few functions of a cell are to transport substances, produce energy, reproduce and facilitate growth. When a cell becomes sick it can no longer function. Once that happens it takes time as in the case of the macula years later for structural changes take place in the macula that can be observed in a routine eye examination but by that time a lot of damage has taken place
What is subclinical macular degeneration?
This is the earliest stage of the disease; the functional stage with minimal to no vision loss and undetectable by the eye doctor a routine dilated eye examination. At this point macular degeneration has already impaired the function of the macula, specifically dark adaptation. The time to find macular degeneration is in the subclinical stage.
A friend of mine told me her doctor measures the pigment in the macula to detect the disease. What that all about?
She must be referring to the MPOD (macular pigment optical density). Although a risk factor for macular degeneration it’s not a physiological indicator of the disease and research has shown that there is no correlation between macular pigment density and impaired dark adaptation.
Currently, there is no cure for Macular Degeneration (MD)
The management of MD has two primary goals
- Preserving vision preventing progression to more advanced MD
- Effectively detecting and managing wet MD (Choroidal Neovascular Membranes)
Achieving these goals will allow the patient to enjoy additional years of high-quality central vision, enhancing the odds of a better quality of life. Since people are living longer early diagnosis and consistent, aggressive management of the disease is required to minimize risk of vision loss.
The importance of following your doctor’s orders to return for follow up care and monitoring cannot be overstated. The management of macular degeneration by your eye doctor is crucial to maintaining and prevention of permanent vision loss.
For Additional Information Please Read The Following Topics:
A staggering 30% of people over the age of 65 have some form of vision loss caused by ocular disease. Even with advances in medicine & eye surgery, people still suffer from permanent and irreparable vision loss.
Texas Macular Degeneration Associates is always on the cutting edge and keeping up with the latest developments in the detection, management, and treatment of macular degeneration.
Among the various personality traits, genetics, and physical makeup that we inherit from our parents, family history plays a major role in determining the risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration.
The macula is part of the retina, the back part of the eye. Often, as one ages and suffers from macular degeneration, the retina deteriorates to a point that may lead to profound central vision loss.