What You Need to Know About Macular Degeneration | Seattle Eye Clinic

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of loss of vision in people age 50 and older. This eye condition causes damage to the macula, which is a spot near the center of the retina. It is responsible for the ability to see straight forward. At Clearview Eye & Laser, we are committed to help educating our patients on eye diseases to promote early detection and treatment.

AMD affects people in different ways. For some, vision loss occurs extremely slowly and for others it happens rather quickly. It can also affect one or both eyes. Over time, patients will experience a blurred area of vision in the center of their eye. It could also affect the ability to perceive brightness in everyday objects, such as the reflection of the sun off the shiny paint on a car.

Fortunately, AMD doesn’t often lead to a total loss of sight. However, it will lead to a loss of forward facing vision which can impede people from doing basic daily tasks such as driving a car, reading and even the ability to recognize faces of people.

Older adult lady with macular degeneration

Who is at Risk for Macular Degeneration?

People over the age of 60 are the most at-risk group of developing AMD. Research has shown that AMD tends to affect Caucasian people more often than Black or Hispanic people. Family history and genetics also play a big part in whether or not you are at risk of developing AMD. If you are a smoker, your chances of developing AMD are doubled.

Scientists have identified 20 different genes that play a role in macular degeneration.  Some companies offer a genetic test for AMD, but medical experts caution against getting it. There is no genetic test that can identify your risk for AMD with 100% certainty.  The current tests on the market only look for various genes that could signify an increased risk. Due to the fact that AMD can be triggered by both genetic and lifestyle choices, the genetic tests currently on the market offer nothing more than an educated guess.

If you wish to lower your risk for macular degeneration or slow its progress, you should engage in as many of the following healthy lifestyle choices as possible:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco products
  • Eat lots of fish and green vegetables
  • Ensure that you have normal cholesterol and blood pressure

The Importance of Early AMD Detection

Your Seattle eye doctor at Clearview Eye & Laser can determine if you have macular degeneration. We offer intensive dilated eye exam that can detect AMD, as the early and middle stages of the disease do not have any warning signs or symptoms.

Over the course of your eye exam, your Seattle eye doctor will look for yellow deposits beneath your retina. These are called drusen and they are normal part of the aging process. If the size of the drusen get to be medium to large, then it is a likely sign that you have AMD.

A visual acuity test is one of the first things your Clearview Eye & Laser eye care doctor will look at. It measures how well you see at a distance. He or she will have you cover one eye and then read from several charts. There are several other medical tests such as the Amsler grid, fluorescein angiogram and optical coherence tomography.

  • Amsler grid is a chart that your eye doctor will have you look at. If the wavy lines on the chart disappear when you’re looking at it, you might have AMD.
  • Fluorescein angiogram is where a dye is injected into your arm, and the doctor takes a picture of the dye as it passes through the blood vessels of your eye. This enables the doctor to see if the blood vessels in your eye are leaking, which would indicate a rapidly progressing condition.
  • Optical coherence tomography is a process where the doctor shoots waves of light into your eye in order to obtain a high definition image the tissue in your eye. This procedure is harmless and painless.

Treatment of Macular Degeneration in Seattle

Unfortunately, there is not cure for macular degeneration. However, regular treatment can slow the progression and control retinal changes. We highly recommend getting comprehensive eye exam at least once a year at our Seattle or Burien eye care clinic.

If you or a loved one is suffering from AMD or is in the at-risk group, contact our eye care doctors at Clearview Eye & Laser. After a consultation, our dedicated and experienced eye care team can recommend the best course of action to treat your AMD. We have two convenient eye clinic locations in Highline and our updated facility in West Seattle. Contact us today to see which treatment options will work best for your AMD.