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Understanding Macular Degeneration… Will I Go Blind?

doc-hendrixIssue 43.09

Will I go blind from age-related macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration alone does not cause total blindness.  In fact, the majority of patients with age-related macular degeneration maintain functional vision.  Even in the worst cases, macular degeneration only affects the central vision and leaves the peripheral vision intact.  This good side vision enables people to see to get around and perform other tasks.  However, when central vision loss occurs, performing tasks such as reading, driving, watching television and recognizing faces becomes extremely difficult. 

Is age-related macular degeneration hereditary?

Although specific genes have not been definitively identified, family history does appear to play a role in macular degeneration.  Those with immediate family members affected by macular degeneration have a higher risk of developing it as well.  Also, women are more at risk than men. 

Is age-related macular degeneration treatable?

There is no treatment available at this time that cures macular degeneration.  There are treatments available to stop the progression of wet macular degeneration but these do not typically restore vision; they simply attempt to keep it from getting worse.  These treatments include injecting medications into the eye or using a laser to destroy the bad blood vessels.  These treatments are most effective when applied early in the course of wet macular degeneration that is why it is so important to see your eye doctor immediately should you notice any visual changes.

Should I take supplements?

Studies have shown that specific vitamins and minerals in specific doses may slow down the progression of macular degeneration in patients with moderate to severe disease.  They have not been shown to prevent someone from developing the disease or have any benefit in mild cases. 

I have macular degeneration, what should I do now?

It is important that you maintain regular care with your eye doctor.  Subtle changes can occur that you might not notice, but are important for your doctor to be aware of. 

Macular degeneration is a frustrating and scary disease that affects millions of people.  However, proper understanding of the disease can decrease your anxiety, help you cope with the disease and help you find ways to potentially minimize vision loss and maximize the vision you still have.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I would be happy to discuss macular degeneration or any other eye conditions with you.

Jason W. Hendrix, M.D. is a local Eye Physician and Surgeon who specializes in cataract surgery and diseases of the eye including the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.  He is located at the Saint George Eye Center, 676 South Bluff Street, Suite 208, Saint George, Utah.  Contact him at 435-628-4507 or visit www.stgec.com.

1 comment to Understanding Macular Degeneration… Will I Go Blind?

  • mara

    yes, however the central portion is the high functioning portion. the part we use to see faces, do detail work. drive, see what is in front of us. read and so on… its not so simple as Oh you will still have peripheral vision in tact…..Its quite complicated.
    along with the central loss, there is debt perception changes, color changes. morphing, distortion, and on and on.
    so it not as simple as what is described here.

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