Macular Degeneration

Dubuque Family Eye Care

Optometrists located in Dubuque, IA

About 11 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration. Although common, macular degeneration requires prompt treatment; otherwise, it may lead to permanent vision loss. At Dubuque Family Eye Care, in Dubuque, Iowa, optometrist Lynn Lester, OD, regularly works with people of all ages to diagnose and treat macular degeneration. To schedule your appointment, call the office or book online today.

Macular Degeneration Q & A

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a common eye problem that typically affects people who are 50 years old and older. It’s characterized by the thinning of the macula, a part of the retina responsible for producing clear vision.

Macular degeneration is often called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because it is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 1.8 million individuals are living with AMD, while an additional 7.3 million are at serious risk of developing vision loss because of AMD.

What are the types of macular degeneration?

At Dubuque Family Eye Care, Dr. Lester treats patients with both wet and dry macular degeneration.

Wet (exudative) macular degeneration is the result of blood vessels leaking fluid or blood into your eye’s macula. This floods the area around your macula, distorting the center of your field of vision. Wet macular degeneration is less common than dry macular degeneration, but it’s just as dangerous.

Dry (atrophic) macular degeneration is the more common form. Experts aren’t entirely sure what causes dry macular degeneration. However, several factors may increase your risk, including a family history of the condition, smoking, damage from UV light, and eating a poor diet. Without proper treatment, dry macular degeneration may turn into wet macular degeneration.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

Symptoms of macular degeneration often go unnoticed when it's early stages. It may produce subtle symptoms like:

  • Dark or empty area in the center of your vision
  • Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
  • Loss of clear color vision
  • Shape of objects appears distorted
  • Straight lines look wavy or crooked

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Lynn Lester immediately for a comprehensive eye examination. She will perform a variety of tests to help determine if you have macular degeneration or any other eye-related health problems.

If your central vision is compromised by macular degeneration, it cannot be restored. However, low-vision devices, like telescopic and microscopic lenses, can help maximize your remaining vision. 

What is the process for diagnosing macular degeneration?

To diagnose macular degeneration, Dr. Lester reviews your medical history, asks you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing, and conducts a comprehensive eye exam. She also examines the back of your eyes and tests for defects in your field of vision. 

If necessary, she might also order advanced optometric testing, such as fluorescein angiography or optical coherence tomography. These tests provide insights into the health of the blood vessels in your eyes.

What is the process for treating macular degeneration?

In cases of "dry" macular degeneration, the tissue of the macula becomes compromised and stops working properly gradually over time. There is presently no cure for dry AMD, and any loss in central vision cannot be restored.

Studies have shown that taking certain vitamin supplements, eating a Mediterranean diet, and quitting smoking can help relieve dry macular degeneration and slow the progression of vision loss. 

With "wet" macular degeneration, fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula. This leakage blurs central vision and can lead to vision loss that can be rapid and severe.

If detected early, wet AMD can be treated with intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications.

Researchers have discovered that eye-friendly nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc can reduce the risks of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration.  

To explore your treatment options for macular degeneration, schedule an appointment at Dubuque Family Eye Care by calling the office or booking online today.