Vision Correction for Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Dry macular degeneration is marked by deterioration of the macula which is in the center of the retina. The layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball.
Dry macular degeneration is one of two types of age-related macular degeneration. The other type — wet macular degeneration — is characterized by blood vessels that grow under the retina in the back of the eye, leaking blood and fluid. Dry macular degeneration is the more common form of the disease.
Dry macular degeneration may worsen your quality of life by causing blurred central vision or a blind spot in your central vision. You need clear central vision for many tasks, such as reading, driving and recognizing faces.
Dry macular degeneration symptoms usually develop gradually. You may notice these vision changes:
Dry macular degeneration may affect one or both eyes. If only one eye is affected, you may not notice any changes in your vision because your good eye may compensate for the weak eye.
See your eye doctor if:
These changes may be the first indication of macular degeneration, particularly if you’re older than age 50.
The exact cause of dry macular degeneration is unknown, but the condition develops as the eye ages. Dry macular degeneration affects the macula — an area located at the center of your retina that is responsible for clear vision in your direct line of sight. Over time tissue in your macula may thin and break down.
Factors that may increase your risk of macular degeneration include:
Progression to wet macular degeneration
At any time, dry macular degeneration can progress to wet macular degeneration, which causes rapid vision loss. Doctors can’t predict whether you’ll develop wet macular degeneration.
Some people with dry macular degeneration may experience severe vision loss.
Doctors will review your medical history and family history, and conduct a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose your condition. Doctors may conduct several tests to diagnose dry macular degeneration, including:
A special camera takes several pictures of the blood vessels in your eye as the dye travels through the blood vessels. The images will show if you have abnormal blood vessel or retinal abnormalities in your eye, such as those associated with wet macular degeneration.
Determining the stage of your dry macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is categorized in three stages based on the progression of damage in your eye:
Treatment can’t reverse dry macular degeneration. But this doesn’t mean you’ll eventually lose all of your sight. Dry macular degeneration usually progresses slowly, and many people with the condition can live relatively normal, productive lives, especially if only one eye is affected. Your doctor may recommend annual eye exams to see if your condition is progressing.
Increased vitamin intake
Taking a high-dose formulation of antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the progression of dry macular degeneration to vision loss, according to research by the National Eye Institute (NEI). In its research, the NEI used a formulation that included:
Ask your doctor whether this formulation may help you reduce your risk of vision loss. Studies found this specific combination of vitamins can’t cure severe vision loss, but it may reduce the risk of vision loss in people with intermediate macular degeneration.
If you have advanced stage macular degeneration in one eye, this combination of vitamins may reduce the risk that you’ll develop vision loss in your other eye. But for people with early-stage dry macular degeneration, there’s no evidence that these vitamins provide a benefit.
Some vitamin supplements may have complications and risks. Tell your doctor if you smoke or have smoked in the past, because beta carotene supplements have been associated with a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers. Beta carotene also may increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Also, high doses of vitamin E may increase the risk of heart failure and other complications.