Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Unfortunately, those with symptoms of macular degeneration never realized the symptoms until their disease was advanced. That is because the early stages of age-related macular degeneration or AMD, doesn’t always have symptoms until it progresses to more advanced stages. But, sometimes the first sign you might have AMD could be as simple as a distortion of straight lines — even a faint distortion. But, as time goes on, that distortion can progress to a gradual loss of your central vision.

Common Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

These symptoms can vary from patient to patient; therefore, if you have even one of the symptoms of macular degeneration you should see a physician right away. The common symptoms include:

  • Central vision (straight line) loss

  • Blurry vision (especially having difficulty w/ blurry words when reading)

  • Difficulty adjusting to low-level light (such as dimly lit restaurants)

  • More difficulty with recognizing faces

  • Central vision blind spots

  • Need for brighter light sources when doing close work or reading

  • Decreased brightness (or intensity) of colors

  • Drusen: When yellow deposits form under the retina & occurs with dry AMD

  • Hallucinations of people or shapes (advanced stages)

If you have dry macular degeneration, it can affect both eyes or even only one. Your better eye may compensate for the weak eye if you develop it in only one eye.

This may cause the good eye to compensate and it’s possible that you won’t notice the change in the affected eye at first. 

Should You See a Doctor?

You should always speak to a physician if you show even the slightest evidence of AMD. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, if it is caught early, enough you could get treatment to prevent full blindness. You will need to see an ophthalmologist if you suspect you have AMD. If you are over the age of 45, you should have an eye examination done at least once every year or every other year. If you have a family history of age-related macular degeneration or you have been diagnosed, you will need regular checkups to make sure the disorder isn’t progressing. 

Macular degeneration does not cause any other medical conditions and there is no need for hospitalization with this disorder. However, loss of vision could result in more frequent injuries — and that could require hospitalization.

Changes in your vision aren’t always an indication you have macular degeneration. Therefore, visit a physician to have a thorough examination. Your eyes will be dilated to check the back of the retina for any yellow deposits. If there are deposits, your physician will discuss treatment options and other preventative measures to keep your eyesight intact.

Remember that the only way to prevent macular degeneration is to have regular eye exams. Even if you have been diagnosed with AMD, there are plenty of advances in technology that make living with low vision easier. From reading aids to visual apps like Voice Vision that help you see the world around you, there are assistive technologies for your low vision. Get low vision apps like Voice Vision through Low Vision Technologies today.

Cause of AMD

We still don’t know the exact causes, except that it comes with age.

The part of your eye damaged during this process is the macula, which is responsible for providing you detailed and sharp central vision.

Known Risk Factors

Age: Especially after the age of 50, the risk of developing macular degeneration is high. It’s most common, however, in folks who are older than 65.

Race: Most common in Caucasians.

Smoking: Cigarette smoking increases the risk.

Family History: If AMD is in your family, you’re more likely to also develop it.

Other risk factors: Obesity, cardiovascular disease, unhealthy diet, high cholesterol.

Stages of Dry AMD

There are 3 stages to dry macular degeneration:

Early: This is when small or medium size drusen are found. Drusen are yellow deposits found under your retina.  Again, you still may not have seen any noticeable symptoms.

Intermediate: Symptoms may still have not shown up, but this stage is defined when a person has quite a few medium-size or one or more large drusen. At this stage, some people are seeing the blurred central vision spot.

Advanced: The blurry spot at the central spot in your vision is noticeable. This is called geographic atrophy, as the macula’s light sensitive cells are breaking down.

Treatment for AMD

Once you’ve noticed the symptoms of macular degeneration, the next question is how treatment may help. Unfortunately, there aren’t any treatments that will reverse or “cure” AMD.

However, the dry version of AMD is a slow progression and you’ll most likely never lose all your sight and will be considered to have low vision.

One thing your doctor may suggest is that you take a high dose zinc and antioxidant formulation, such as AREDS. This formulation has been shown through studies to help slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Living with AMD

It can be difficult emotionally to deal with your vision loss. I’ve lived with low vision myself for over 25 years and understand exactly what you’re going through.

It’s important that you deal with any feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration or anger through the help of support groups (link to our support group page) and other low vision communities.

My goal is to offer you great hope in terms of how technology can help you lead an empowering and independent life.

I’ve done a great deal of research into the high tech gear those of us with low vision can use to combat the symptoms of macular degeneration.

If you’d like full details on these exciting findings, fill out the form below.

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