Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss for people 60 years and older, so macular degeneration eye exams may be required as you get older. Macular degeneration (also called AMD) causes damage to a small spot in the center of the eye called the macula. This is the central portion of the retina, the part of the eye that senses light. The most common early symptom of AMD is a blurred area in the center of your vision, preventing you from seeing clearly straight ahead. If left untreated, you can develop blank spots in the center of your vision. AMD doesn’t cause complete blindness, but it can affect your ability to read, to drive or even to work effectively.
Macular Degeneration Risk Factors
Age is the biggest factor in determining who will develop AMD, but there are other risk factors, such as:
- Smoking, which can double the risk of developing AMD
- People with AMD in their immediate family are more likely to develop the disease themselves.
- Caucasians are more likely to develop macular degeneration than African-Americans, Hispanics or any other race.
Researchers have found solid links between a healthy lifestyle and reduced AMD risk. Our Shreveport ophthalmology team suggests making healthy changes to your life, including quitting smoking, maintaining normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet that includes fish and leafy, green vegetables.
What Happens During a Macular Degeneration Eye Exam?
As there are often little to no symptoms in the earlier stages of AMD, the only way to detect the disease is through a thorough dilated eye examination. Your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes, which will dilate your pupils and make it easier to see inside your eye. Your ophthalmologist will then look at your optic nerve and retina for signs of macular degeneration. If there are signs of early AMD, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop later stages that can affect your eyesight. It does mean that it’s important for you to come in for eye examinations on a regular basis, so your doctor can monitor your progress.
How Should I Prepare for a Macular Degeneration Eye Exam?
- Your eyes will be dilated, and you may need someone to drive you home.
- Bring your glasses and contact lenses if you wear them.
- Bring any eye medicines and a list of all other medicines with you.