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MACULAR DEGENERATION

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Macular degeneration is a disease that affects central vision in older patients. It is in fact the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 65 in the United States. Macular degeneration results from damage to the central retinal cells in the eye. The cause of macular degeneration is unknown although it is associated with aging, a history of other family members with the disease, ultraviolet sunlight exposure and possibly certain dietary deficiencies of select vitamins and minerals. 

Macular degeneration is classified into two varieties. The most common form is referred to as "dry" or atrophic degeneration and affects 90% of people with macular degeneration. This stems from a loss of the cells in the central retina which results in a gradual loss of vision over many years.

The "wet" or exudative form of macular degeneration is the least common but most vision threatening. The wet form stems from the spontaneous development of abnormal blood vessels in the wall of the eye that cause leakage, bleeding and scarring of the central retina. Vision loss in the wet form can occur over a matter of days or weeks.

Early detection is the most important goal in the management of macular degeneration. Eating a balanced diet including beta carotene and protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of ultraviolet exposure from the sun are current recommendations. Use of an Amsler grid is important to detect changes in the central vision that may indicate progression to the wet form of the disease.

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The wet form of the disease can sometimes be treated, when caught early, with lasers or surgery in an attempt to preserve central vision. Dr. Brent is fellowship trained in the management of retinal diseases including macular degeneration. Call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss the disease if you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration or there is a family history of the disease and you would like to be screened. You may wish to visit the web site of the American Academy of Ophthalmology to obtain addition information about macular degeneration.