Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in the United States.

What is Macular Degeneration?

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Macular Degeneration is the damage or breakdown of the macula of the eye. The macula is located in the retina at the back of the eye. It is responsible for our central vision and allows us to see fine details and distant objects clearly.

Macular Degeneration causes the loss of central vision, or the ability to see details. Examples include losing the ability to: recognize faces, read a menu, dial a phone, read a watch, or see street signs.

In most cases, the peripheral vision is not affected and macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. You continue to have some useful vision, enabling you to care for yourself and continue activities that do not require central vision.

Even though each eye functions as an individual organ, development of macular degeneration typically starts in one eye and, in time, will develop in the other.

To give you better understanding, watch this video.

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is directly related to, and part of, the body’s natural aging process. You will often hear it referred to as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

It can also be hereditary. If AMD is in your family history, Dr. Memmen advises a retinal examination every one to two years after the age of 50. If any vision loss or change in vision is noticed, you should contact Green Apple Eye Care immediately to schedule an appointment with Dr. Memmen.

What are the symptoms of AMD?

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Early detection of Macular Degeneration is imperative, as it is with any eye problem, because once severe damage has occurred, treatment is usually no longer possible. Unfortunately, AMD will worsen with time if not treated.

If AMD only develops in one eye, you may not even notice symptoms in its early stages because your healthy eye will compensate by taking on the responsibility of central vision. Once both eyes are affected, loss of central vision may be noticed more quickly.

You can easily monitor changes in your eyesight by performing a test every day on each individual eye. One test available is the Amsler Grid.

When taking the test, be sure to:

  1. Follow the instructions at this site:
  2. Test each eye individually by covering the other.
  3. Stay focused on the center dot. All of the small squares and lines should be straight and the same size.
  4. If any part of the grid becomes distorted, blurred, discolored, or otherwise abnormal, call Green Apple Eye Care immediately to schedule an appointment with Dr. Memmen.
Other common symptoms include:

  1. Distortion of vision (straight objects seem wavy or crooked)
  2. Blurriness or darkness in your distance or close central vision
  3. The size and color of an object may appear different in each eye

Is There Treatment for Macular Degeneration?

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Yes! When you visit our Green Bay or Appleton office for your appointment, Dr. Memmen will measure your vision, dilate your eyes and perform a full examination to determine if you have macular degeneration. At this time he will also determine which of the two most common types of AMD you have, the dry form or the wet form. Your treatments will reflect his findings. He may even take photographs or laser OCT images of your eyes for future comparisons.

90% of AMD patients have the dry form that is caused by aging and thinning of the macula tissues. Vision loss is usually gradual. For most patients, AMD can be managed with special high-dose vitamins and nutritional supplements.

“Wet” macular degeneration accounts for only 10% of AMD cases but accounts for 90% of severe vision loss caused by AMD! The wet form results when abnormal blood vessels form at the back of the eye. These new blood vessels leak fluid or blood, causing blurred central vision. Vision loss may be rapid and severe. This form of macular degeneration can be treated with an injection of medication directly into the center of the eye. Laser treatment may also be used, but only in certain individual cases.