Your eyes are uniquely vulnerable to aging. As you age, you will almost certainly notice a measure of vision loss, likely accelerating as the years go by. Generally speaking, this vision loss can be treated by gradually increasing the strength of your lens prescriptions.
However, certain eye conditions are more serious and pose a significant danger to your long-term visual acuity. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in older Americans, and it must be caught early.
Our eye doctors urge you to visit our office for regularly scheduled eye exams, particularly as you get older. This will help you diagnose and treat conditions like macular degeneration as early as possible.
If you’re a resident of the St. Petersburg, Florida area and you’re concerned about macular degeneration or other eye conditions, please call Ryczek Eye Associates today at 727-327-8855 for a consultation.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Let’s take a second to talk about the structure of your eye. One of the most important parts of your eye is the retina. It’s the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of your eye. The retina has an exceptionally important job- it takes light signals from the outside world, transforms them into electrical signals and sends them along the optical nerve to your brain, where they are converted into the actual images you see.
A crucial part of your retina is the macula, which is made up of several layers of cells. Located in the center of your retina, the macula controls both central vision and your ability to see small, fine details.
As you age, these layers of cells begin to break down- not as a result of any negligence on your part, but simply as a natural result of aging. When these cells break down, deposits of new blood vessels can build up in and around your macula, where they can leak and bleed.
This break down process is what we call age-related macular degeneration. While it won’t lead to total blindness, it will negatively affect your ability to see objects in the center of your vision, as well as your ability to discern fine details.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
There are two forms of macular degeneration. In “dry” ARMD, which is the most common form of macular degeneration, the breakdown of your macula leads to a gradual loss of central vision. Meanwhile, “wet” ARMD includes the leaking and bleeding of blood vessels described above. This is the most severe form of macular degeneration and can come on suddenly.
If you’re over the age of 50, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Difficulty seeing in low-light conditions
- Blurriness in the center of your vision
- Straight lines that appear wavy
- Seeing spots
These symptoms can sometimes be subtle and easily dismissed. Don’t fall into that trap – if you notice them, speak to our eye doctor as soon as possible.
Macular degeneration cannot be reversed, but it can be treated, and it can be diagnosed early, thus limiting its damage. As such, you should make regularly scheduled eye exams a normal part of your routine as you get older. There is simply no substitute for these eye exams. Dr. Ryczek can catch macular degeneration early in its progression, protecting as much of your vision as possible. When you turn 50, an eye exam should be at least an annual occurrence.
If you’re an older St. Petersburg, Florida-area resident, eye exams are crucial if you want to catch macular degeneration early and protect your vision. Please call Ryczek Eye Associates today at 727-327-8855 for an appointment.