In its early stages, macular degeneration does not cause symptoms. That is why it is critical to see a doctor as soon as possible if mild symptoms occur. That could mean the degeneration has progressed. The eye care specialists at Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons explain signs of potential macular degeneration.
The macula is the area of the retina responsible for direct line-of-sight vision. It also allows you to see fine details. Macular degeneration affects central vision but not peripheral vision. While both eyes are usually affected, the condition tends to prove worse in one eye.
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. The former often comes on suddenly, while it can take years for the latter to progress. However, wet macular degeneration starts out as the dry form. Eventually, blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak, resulting in the wet form.
Either type can lead to permanent vision loss, with the wet version more likely to cause complete blindness.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of macular degeneration usually start after age 50. Initial symptoms, which are not painful, include:
- Blurry vision
- Blurred spot in the visual field
- Colors appearing dull or less intense
- More light needed to read
- Problems recognizing faces
Signs of wet macular degeneration include distorted vision. For instance, straight lines may appear curved. Suspect wet macular degeneration if your eyes suddenly have trouble adjusting to less light in a room.
When to See a Doctor
Since early treatment can slow macular degeneration, it is crucial to see an eye care professional as soon as possible once symptoms begin. If colors seem less bright or words are increasingly blurry on the page or screen, that is a potential red flag.
If there is a family history of macular degeneration, seeing an eye doctor is even more urgent. Additional risk factors include smoking, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Those with light-colored eyes are more prone to macular degeneration than dark-eyed individuals.
The macula gets thinner with age. The doctor can detect minute protein clumps called drusen on the macula. These clumps are common in those with macular degeneration.
If you are experiencing symptoms of potential macular degeneration, contact the eye care specialists at Berks Eye to schedule a consultation. Even if you are not yet experiencing symptoms, it is wise to undergo comprehensive eye examinations at least every two years after age 50. These regular exams can detect macular degeneration while the condition is still asymptomatic. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, prompt treatment will help keep your vision healthy for as long as possible.