Robert G. Alexander, MD

Macular Degeneration

Vision with age-related macular degeneration

Photos courtesy of the National Eye Institute,
National Institutes of Health

Macular Degeneration is a deterioration of the eye’s macula—the area of the retina responsible for fine vision. Central vision and clear detail are distinguished by the macula. Many older people develop macular degeneration as a part of the body’s natural aging process. Deposits of tiny, fatty proteins called drusen can affect the retina as we age. Drusen can lead to the most common form of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)—dry macular degeneration.ARMD Warning Signs

Currently, prevention is the best way to minimize age-related changes to the macula. Research indicates that targeted nutritional supplements can slow the rate of macular changes. Most of these supplements are available over the counter and include antioxidant vitamins. Dr. Alexander views the maculas during a dilated eye examination and can reassure you as well as recommend a preventative course of treatment.

Wet age-related macular degeneration occurs in ten percent of cases and can be the most serious form of ARMD. Abnormal blood vessels grow in the choroid, underneath the retina. The new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting vision. Vision loss may be fast and can be permanent.

New treatments for wet ARMD are available. Regular eye exams allow Dr. Alexander to monitor the maculas and recommend treatment when warranted, preferably before damage becomes irreparable.

Dr. Alexander encourages his patients to proactively manage their eye health through use of the Amsler Grid (see illustration below). This simple test performed weekly at home may signal subtle changes in the macula as soon as they occur. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.

Ansler Grid showing age-related macular degeneration

With ARMD, images can turn blurry, straight lines may become wavy or seem distorted, and you may have difficulty identifying colors. You might also begin to have trouble reading, driving or noticing traffic signals.

Pick up your free Amsler Grid key chain in our office.