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Retina & Eye Specialists of New Jersey

Testing for Macular Degeneration

By Sean C. Lalin on December 13, 2013

Testing for Macular DegenerationThere are many different kinds of vision issues that can affect a person as they grow older. Given this fact, it's important to visit with an eye care specialist annually for regular vision exams. One vision issue that may occur is macular degeneration.

Right now, we want to go over some of the basics of macular degeneration, with a focus on how it's tested for and what signs to note as the condition progresses.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that results in loss of central vision. It refers to problems with the macula, which is the central part of the retina.

There are two kinds of macular degeneration:

  • Dry macular degeneration - The more common type of macular degeneration, this refers to the deterioration of the center portion of the retina
  • Wet macular degeneration - Wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels at the back of the eye leak and cause blood and fluid to affect the retina

Signs and Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Reporting any signs and symptoms to your eye care specialists helps with diagnosing a condition. Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of macular degeneration:

  • Vision problems in low light situations
  • Crooked or bent central vision
  • Blind spots in central vision
  • The need for more light when reading
  • Blurring of printed words
  • Change in color intensity/brightness
  • Issues with facial recognition

Examining the Back of the Eye

Given that the retina is located in the back of the eye, this is one way to determine if a patient is suffering from macular degeneration. The eye care specialist will look for small yellow deposits called drusen, which is a common sign of macular degeneration.

Identifying Issues with the Center of Your Vision

In another test for macular degeneration, an Amsler grid is used. This is a simple grid of vertical and horizontal lines. If central vision is affected, this grid will appear bent or crooked rather than straight.

Fluorescein Angiogram

This is a test used mainly to check for wet macular degeneration. A colored dye is injected into the patient's arm, which eventually travels to the ocular blood vessels. This allows eye doctors to check on any abnormal blood vessel growth or issues around the retina.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

This scanning method that uses near-infrared light allows eye care specialists to create three-dimensional images of the retina, allowing for a good cross-sectional examination of the retina's health and overall condition.

Determining the Right Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Once it's been determined what kind of macular degeneration you have and what stage it's in, treatment options can be defined. The treatments will generally be unable to restore lost vision but can slow down the vision loss or even stop it. Most treatments will involve medications, vitamins, and dietary supplements, though some surgeries may be considered as well for certain patients. We can discuss this matters in more detail during the consultation process.

Learn More About Advanced Eye Care

For more information about macular degeneration and your many other options for advanced eye care treatment, be sure to contact our New Jersey eye care center today. Our entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and going over these matters with you in greater detail.

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