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Macular Degeneration

Comprehensive Care for Macular Degeneration in Chattanooga

simulated view of macular degenerationMacular degeneration affects more than 10 million Americans, which is more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. Currently, the condition is considered incurable, but some treatments can slow down the progression of the disease.

At Pomerance Eye Center, P.C., we are dedicated to preventing vision loss from AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration). We employ the most advanced diagnostics available and work with our retina colleagues to diagnose and treat macular degeneration as early as possible in the course of the disease. Contact our ophthalmologists in Chattanooga today to schedule your consultation!

CALL US: (423) 855-6800 REQUEST APPOINTMENT

What is Macular Degeneration?

macular degeneration diagramAge-related macular degeneration affects central vision, making daily tasks like reading, driving, and recognizing faces difficult. The disease is more common in those 55 and older, but it can occur at any age so it is crucial to identify AMD as early as possible by getting regular eye exams.

The most sensitive part of the eye is the macula, the central part of the retina located at the back of the eye. This area has millions of cells that sense light and color and provide sharp vision. The macula receives images, translates them into signals, and sends them to the brain via the optic nerve.

Over time, yellowish cellular debris called drusen can accumulate in the macula in a layer called Bruch’s membrane. Drusen are small blisters in Bruch’s membrane which distort the overlying retinal cell layer. This can distort vision. If the drusen leak fluid, wet macular degeneration can do more damage to the overlying retina and permanently damage the retina.

There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • Non-Exudative or “Dry” AMD: This type accounts for 90% of all macular degeneration cases and is the milder form of the disease. It develops gradually as the build-up of drusen accumulate and distort the macular cells.
  • Exudative AMD or “Wet” AMD: Although this type of AMD is less common it can cause more severe loss of central vision. A condition called choroidal neovascularization (CNV), where fluid or blood vessels pass through Bruch’s membrane, causes a bulge and separation of the fragile layer of receptor cells. This damage can be irreversible. The wet form of macular degeneration develops more quickly than the dry type and can form a scar-like membrane that can destroy central vision.

Identifying Symptoms

close up of human eyeIn the early stages of AMD, the symptoms may not be noticeable but signs can be detected during an eye exam. In most cases, patients have a family history of AMD. AMD is thought to be due to nutritional and environmental causes if the individual is susceptible. The “dry” form of the disease is slow to progress and usually does not result in major vision changes until it has been present for some time. Sometimes, AMD does progress to its “wet” form, where significant defects in barriers to fluid migration between layers of the retina allow fluid to collect where it doesn’t belong and where it can do damage. Initially, there may be mild disruption of vision but when it goes beyond the initial stage, symptoms can include very distorted and blurred vision with the appearance of a dark area in the center of the vision.

Because other conditions can cause the same symptoms, it is essential to schedule routine exams. We do these detailed exams at our Chattanooga office. We can help you determine if you have macular degeneration and recommend the right treatment for you.

Treatments for Macular Degeneration

The dry form of macular degeneration may respond to nutritional therapy. A diet high in antioxidants can support cell structure and encourage healthy pigments. For some individuals, AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) vitamins containing vitamin E, C, beta-carotene, copper, and zinc and other micronutrients, a formula derived at the National Eye Institute, may reduce the speed and degree of deterioration. It is unknown if AREDS vitamins can prevent progression of AMD from the dry form to the wet form.

The state of the art treatment for AMD is injection of anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medications: These medications can reduce the growth of new blood vessels and swelling. They are injected into the eye to trap VEGF or prevent it from binding with other cells to stimulate growth. It is likely that a long course of successive injections will be necessary to keep the chronic problem at bay. Injections in the eye sound frightening and painful, but in reality are neither. The needle used is very thin and the eye is numbed so that it does not hurt.

Preventing or Slowing the Onset of Macular Degeneration

Because the incidence of AMD significantly increases with age, visiting an ophthalmologist for regular exams is the best way to preserve your vision. Many middle-aged individuals can be at risk, especially if there is a family history of the disease. Women are more susceptible than men, and non-Hispanic whites and those with light-colored eyes are more likely to experience vision loss due to AMD.

Current research does not yet show how to prevent AMD completely, but some lifestyle factors will increase your ability to maintain a lifetime of healthy vision. These include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Not smoking
  • Controlling your cholesterol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Drinking only in moderation
  • Protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light
  • Taking advanced nutritional supplements
  • Getting the proper nutrition with a healthy diet

Your Trusted Source for Macular Degeneration Care in Chattanooga

Since 1984, we’ve been serving Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia, and Northeast Alabama with expert vision care, including diagnosing and treating macular degeneration. Slowing the progression of AMD is possible with help from our highly experienced ophthalmologists. We use state-of-the-art technology and advanced techniques to ensure you achieve and maintain optimal eye health. Schedule your appointment today!

CALL US: (423) 855-6800 REQUEST APPOINTMENT

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