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Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration – What Is It?

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Yesnick Vision Center

Eye Exams and Vision Care at Yesnick Vision Center

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 60. An estimated 11 million people in the United States and 1.4 million Canadians have some form of macular degeneration.

The risk of suffering from AMD increases from 2% for ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.

Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, with lasers and injections, Yesnick Vision Center can help you manage the condition and occasionally even restore some lost vision.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. It’s responsible for central vision, making it an extremely important part of our eyes. A large part of our ability to see fine detail and color comes from our central vision. Clear central vision is vital to our quality of life as it allows us to drive a car, recognize faces, read, watch TV and so much more.

The retina is the back layer of the eye that consists of nerves to record images and send them back to the brain. When functioning properly, the macula collects extremely detailed images at the center of our vision. It then sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain. When the macula deteriorates, the retina sends distorted and blurred images to the brain.

One way to understand the impact of AMD: When you look at a loved one, the image of their face is focused onto your macula. The deterioration of the macula makes it difficult, sometimes impossible to see clearly, impacting our enjoyment of life.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two main types of macular degeneration: “wet” and “dry.” Between 85% to 90% of people with macular degeneration have dry form. The dry form can eventually lead to the wet form.

Stargardt disease is another form of macular degeneration, which occurs in young people. Caused by a defective gene, it affects 1 in 10,000 people.

Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration

  • Wet (exudative) macular degeneration – this occurs when very fragile new blood vessels form in the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina, causing vision to become distorted, resulting in lines that appear wavy instead of straight, or black spots in your vision. As the blood vessels continue to bleed, they form a scar, potentially leading to full or partial loss of central vision.
  • Dry (atrophic) macular degeneration – this occurs when yellow deposits of proteins called drusen build up under the retina and cause retinal distortion. While a few small drusen may not change your vision, when they grow bigger they may start to distort or dim your vision, particularly while reading. As the condition worsens, light-sensitive cells in your macula can deteriorate and eventually die. In your central vision, you may also notice large blind spots.

Stages of Dry Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration happens in three stages.

  • Early AMD – At this point most people have no loss of vision. This is when medium-sized drusen deposits accumulate under the retina and there are no pigment changes or deterioration of vision.
  • Intermediate AMD – Most people don’t experience any problems with daily tasks; however, there may be mild vision loss. This is when large drusen deposits accumulate and/or pigment changes occur, indicating that macula cells are starting to die.
  • Late AMD – Noticeable vision loss has occurred due to extensive damage to the macula.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

You might not have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of AMD. Irreversible damage may occur by the time significant symptoms reveal themselves. Wet AMD may cause the sudden appearance of these symptoms.

The first symptoms that you may experience of macular degeneration can include:

  • Blind or dark spots in the center of your vision
  • Decreased or blurry vision
  • Different color perception, in rare cases
  • Lines appearing wavy

What Eye Exams Can Help Detect AMD?

Your eye doctor will perform an eye exam to check for macular degeneration. This will include:

  • Dilated Eye Exam – Your eye doctor will need to dilate your pupils using eye drops. This will allow the doctor to see a magnified view of the drusen and macula, and detect any abnormal blood vessels.
  • Fluorescein Angiography – A dye is injected into the bloodstream to detect any leakage in the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Digital Retinal Image – This non-invasive, diagnostic tool produces high-resolution digital colored images of your retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels in the back of your eye, allowing your eye doctor to see more details of your eye.
  • Ophthalmoscopy – Your doctor will use a hand-held light to detect any changes or damage in the macula and retina.
  • Amsler Grid – This is used by a patient at home and allows for self-examination of your vision. It will help you notice any sudden appearance of blank or blurry spots in your field of vision. Immediately report any changes of vision to your eye doctor. This should not replace your yearly comprehensive eye exam.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – This test allows eye doctors to see a cross-section of the retina and examine the blood vessels and layers beneath the surface of the retina. This includes the retina, optic nerve, macula, and choroid. The OCT provides 3D and full-color images.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma Related?

  • A: While macular degeneration does not affect glaucoma, it can contribute to decreased vision along with glaucoma. The vision loss that may occur in macular degeneration tends to affect central vision, whereas glaucoma usually affects side vision. If both conditions arise, they do not actively affect one another. However, the visual impairment that may result will affect a larger area of vision than glaucoma alone.

Q: Can my vision improve if I am treated for AMD?

  • A: While there is no cure, certain treatment options can help improve your vision. For those with advanced dry macular degeneration in both eyes, one option to improve vision may be surgery to implant a telescopic lens in one eye. A telescopic lens looks like a tiny plastic tube that has lenses that magnify your field of vision.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Yesnick Vision Center for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


Why You Regularly Need to Replace Your Sunglasses

Did you know that sunglasses, or at least sunglass lenses, regularly need to be replaced? 

According to a study conducted at the University of São Paulo, the UV protection that sunglasses provide deteriorates over time. You may adore your current ones, but if you’ve been rocking those shades for two or more years, it might be time to get a new pair. 

In addition to the UV-blocking properties, anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings wear down, and the frame material may become brittle over the years, too. Even if you have the most durable sunglasses available, regular lens-replacement is the best way to ensure that your vision is maximally protected from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. 

UV Light and Sunglasses

The protective efficacy of your sunglasses comes in large part from the lens coating of dyes and pigments that reflect and absorb ultraviolet radiation. They create a barrier that prevents UV radiation from penetrating your eyes.

However, this protective coating can, and often does, break down over time. Wear and tear can cause an invisible web of tiny abrasions, compromising its UV-blocking power. Furthermore, the protective dyes and pigments aren’t able to absorb UV rays indefinitely; the more sunlight they’re exposed to, the more rapidly they’ll become ineffective. 

A pair of shades worn on occasion and in mild conditions is likely to remain effective longer than a pair that is heavily used in a more intensely sunny environment. For example, if you spend long days on the water paddling, kayaking, or canoeing, the protective coating on your lenses will deteriorate more quickly than it would if you only wear your shades to go grocery shopping or sit in a cafe. 

Why It’s Important to Protect Your Eyes From UV

Protecting your eyes from the sun is critical no matter where in the world you are, as UV exposure places you at risk for developing eye diseases like eye cancer, pterygium, and pinguecula — which can result in disfigurement and discomfort — as well as cataracts and macular degeneration — which cause vision loss and, in severe cases, blindness.

Even short-term overexposure can result in photokeratitis, a corneal sunburn. Symptoms include eye pain, swelling, light sensitivity, and temporary vision loss. Some people experience it when spending too much time boating or skiing without wearing eye protection. Snow and water can increase solar exposure because they reflect sunlight toward your face.  

What to Look for When Getting New Sunglasses

When choosing new sunglasses, make sure they’re labeled 100% UV protection or UV400. Although most pairs sold in the United States and Canada offer this degree of protection, it’s still worth confirming before making the purchase. Keep in mind that factors like cost, polarization, lens color, or darkness don’t have much to do with the level of UV protection. Even clear prescription lenses can be UV protective. 

It’s important to note that there is a lot of counterfeit sunwear in the marketplace. This is dangerous since counterfeit eyewear may not provide much-needed ultraviolet protection. So if the price of a renowned brand is too good to be true, it’s probably a fake. 

The size and fit of the sunglasses is important. Bigger is definitely better if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Larger wrap-around eyewear is best if you regularly ski or spend many hours in the water, as this style blocks light from all directions. 

To find out whether it’s still safe to wear your favorite shades, visit a Las Vegas eye doctor to determine whether your lenses still offer the right level of UV protection. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss prescription sunwear. 

For more information about UV safety, or to get the perfect sunglasses tailored to your vision needs and lifestyle, contact Yesnick Vision Center in Las Vegas today!  

 

References 

https://biomedical-engineering-online.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12938-016-0209-7

 

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Nation-wide awareness about the vast dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the “risk factor that no one talks about”. Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes to Eye Disease

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list.

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss.

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair!

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases.

We Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Las Vegas

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams with Dr. David Yesnick can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, don’t hesitate to call Yesnick Vision Center — we’re here for you.

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