Orange County Retina Specialist
Age Related Macular Degeneration and Retina Specialist
At the Retina Associates of Orange County, our team is experienced in taking care of patients who are in need of an Orange County retina specialist. We have been providing quality eye care services for this community and beyond, and hope that you consider booking an appointment for an exam if you are concerned about your eye health. One of the most common reasons that patients walk into our office is due to age related macular degeneration.
About Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the most common cause of vision problems and vision loss in people over 60 years of age. This eye disease has a direct effect on the retina, which is made up of thin tissue that lines the back of the eye. Inside the center of the retina is the macula. This contains high amounts of cones which are cells sensitive to light. Cones are responsible for providing clear, sharp, and detailed central vision. When AMD is present, the cells within the macula begin to break down and die. This results in distorted central vision and blind spots.
Quick Facts About AMD:
- AMD can affect one or both eyes
- The disease can progress very fast or very slow
- AMD can cause complete vision loss
- It is crucial to see an AMD specialist or retina specialist for treatment
Two Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of AMD: Dry and Wet. People can develop both types of AMD. The dry form of AMD can advance and lead to vision loss without developing into wet AMD. Many people will experience subtle differences in their vision without ever experiencing partial or total vision loss.
The First Signs of AMD
Common symptoms of AMD can vary and may include:
- Smudged, distorted, or lost field of vision
- Difficulty in seeing textures or distinguishing between two colors side by side
- Inability to adjust your eyes to changing light levels
- The need to increase the level of light to perform daily tasks
- Impaired depth perception
Dry AMD typically causes a slight blur, both up close and far away, in the central vision. As the disease progresses, this area can cause fuzzy and shadowed vision eventually leading to blind spots. Some people might also struggle to see fine details and certain colors.
With wet AMD, a person can experience the same signs as dry AMD, but they might also notice that straight lines are appearing wavy. In the severe form of wet AMD, there might be rapid vision loss, sometimes within a few days or weeks. If you are noticing any of the aforementioned signs, please call an AMD specialist immediately.
An Orange County specialist for retina health might tell you that the signs and symptoms of AMD can vary. When only one eye is affected, the individual might not notice any symptoms. Furthermore, there is no pain associated with AMD. In general, it is usually an eye doctor who detects the first signs of the disease prior to any actual symptoms. This is why it is so important to have annual eye exams when you reach the age of 60, or when you begin developing eye problems.
Less Common Signs and Symptoms of AMD
Although most people with AMD will not experience the following signs, it is important to be aware of them beforehand.
- Delayed Dark Adaptation: This symptom is difficult to notice, but occurs when the retina takes longer to adapt to a bright to dark environment. An example of this would be going into a dark movie theater from a brightly lit area selling popcorn. It can take up to 30 minutes or more to adapt to the lighting.
- Flashing Lights: Some people with wet AMD notice a symptom which is reminiscent of flashing lights. This is not the same as flashing lights or floaters in the side vision area which could be another eye disorder.
- Shadows of White Walls: It is possible to only notice differences in your central vision when you are looking at a white wall. Dark or shadowed areas on a white wall could indicate wet AMD or retinal atrophy.
- Visual Hallucinations: Although rare, some people who experience a partial loss of their central vision will experience visual hallucinations. Known as Charles Bonnet syndrome this occurs when the brain fills in images after not receiving visual input from the retina.
Possible Treatments For AMD
Age-related macular degeneration is a leading factor in blindness for people who are 65 years or older. It is estimated that more than 12 million people in America have this condition, and is expected to increase as our population reaches their retirement years. Unfortunately, many people who develop AMD are not diagnosed until around seven years after symptoms for this condition have arised. While there is no “cure” for it, there are treatments that can slow down the progression.
Dry AMD Treatment
The treatment for early dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is often nutritional therapy, as a healthy diet that is high in antioxidants can support macula cells in the eye. If the condition is at a more advanced stage, higher quantities of specific vitamins and minerals may increase the amount of healthy pigments within the eye cell structure.
Wet AMD Treatment
Currently, one of the most effective treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration is through injection therapy. The injection solution consists of healthy molecules that support new blood vessel growth. Depending on your case, we may suggest taking certain prescription medications to reduce the intensity of symptoms.
Scientists have recently found that drinking espresso daily in combination with rich fruits and vegetables can have a protective effect on eye health. Consuming coffee can help prevent age-related macular degeneration. Some patients may be suitable for laser photocoagulation surgery, but this may only be appropriate for specific circumstances. Examples of supplements and vitamins that may be taken to help macular degeneration include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Zinc Oxide
For the most personalized and comprehensive eye care plan, we encourage patients to visit our office. Please do not begin a treatment plan without consulting with an eye doctor first.
Are You Experiencing the Signs and Symptoms of AMD?
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned signs or symptoms of AMD, it is very important to discuss them with an AMD specialist. We can imagine that if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, that you may be in need of some advice. Aging is something that can feel scared about, but is only a natural stage in life. We offer compassionate and seasoned insight when speaking with patients, and hope to help you or a loved one today. Please schedule an appointment with a retina specialist in Orange County at Retina Associates of Orange County as soon as possible for more information.