Blurry spots in your vision that occur as you grow older may be attributed to a condition called age-related macular degeneration. Since this condition can grow slowly or quickly, at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we check your eyes for macular degeneration at every eye exam. While it usually doesn’t cause total blindness, the blurry spots can cause significant interference with vision and impede your lifestyle. That’s why early detection is crucial.
What is Macular Degeneration?
More than 10 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with macular degeneration. It is the leading cause of vision loss.1
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula layer of the retina. There are two kinds: dry and wet. All AMD begins as dry and some deteriorate into wet, which is the more serious kind. Most people with AMD have the dry kind.
Dry macular degeneration is the thinning of the macula and may affect only one eye. A buildup of tiny yellow protein under the macula causes it to dry out and thin.
Wet macular degeneration occurs in late stage dry AMD. Fewer people suffer from wet AMD, but it is a more serious condition. Blood vessels develop under the macula and can cause pressure with fluid buildup. Much of the central vision can be lost.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
Several of the risk factors for macular degeneration are inherited. However, some of the causes are preventable.
Your risk for AMD may increase from2:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Family history of AMD
- Gender – women may be at higher risk
- Race – whites are at higher risk
- Sunlight exposure
- Late stage AMD in one eye increases risk for the other eye
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Early detection is key in slowing cases of AMD. However, early stage dry macular degeneration is not noticeable by the patient. Your ophthalmologist can check for it during dilated eye exams. Symptoms include3:
- Blurriness in central vision
- Trouble seeing in dim light
- Blank spots in vision
- Wavy lines that should be straight
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, your ophthalmologist will keep close watch over early stage dry AMD. Meanwhile, it is important to take steps to improve your health and to slow your AMD condition.
Begin by eating a healthy diet complete with plenty of dark, leafy greens and fatty fish2. Regular exercise and weight loss will also help slow AMD. Your ophthalmologist may recommend supplements of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, wear UV-rated sunglasses outdoors to lessen exposure to harmful rays.
See your primary care physician regularly. Smoking cessation is very important and your doctor will be able to assist you with that. Keeping your hypertension under control is also important.
In late stage wet AMD, your ophthalmologist may utilize options like eye injections called anti-VEGF drugs, photodynamic therapy (PDT) injections, or laser treatments2. Research continues into developing treatments for macular degeneration.
Make an appointment today
If it has been over three years since you’ve had your eyes checked for macular degeneration (a dilated eye exam), call us today for an appointment and come to one of our two Colorado locations for a complete exam. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are here to help you protect your vision as your body ages.
If your eye’s lens has become cloudy, causing your vision to become blurry, hazy and dulled, your ophthalmologist from Colorado Ophthalmology Associates has likely recommended cataract surgery. One of the most common procedures worldwide, cataract surgeries can help people who have been noticing increasing difficulty seeing when driving, watching TV, climbing stairs, or even focusing in bright lights.
In cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will use delicate instruments to make a small incision in the eye to remove part of the lens and then to remove the cataract. An artificial lens, folded up, will then be inserted into position1. It will unfold and become the new permanent lens implant, allowing light to refract onto the retina for a clearer visual image.
What will happen during my pre-surgery appointment?
Before your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will want to measure your eye for the right fit and for the correct power of your intraocular lens (IOL). The details of the surgery will be discussed and you will be given instructions for the day of surgery, such as not wearing any makeup, creams or facial lotions that day. You will also be instructed not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to your surgery.
Your doctor will want to know what medications you are taking, so bring a list with you. You may receive instructions to stop taking some of the meds prior to your surgery. Additionally, you may receive an antibiotic eye drop prescription along with instructions to use the drops before your surgery. These drops may help prevent infections and lessen swelling.1
What will cataract surgery be like?
On the day of your surgery, you will need to have someone drive you home, so be sure to make arrangements. Surgery will last only 10 to 15 minutes, but with prep and recovery, plan on an hour in the office. Here are the steps to the surgery:
- Eye dilated with drops
- Eye numbed with drops or injection
- You may be given a light sedative to make you groggy and relaxed
- You will be awake and see light and movement, but not exactly what the doctor is doing
- Your surgeon will use a special microscope to view the eye and the procedure
- The old cataract will be removed and the new, artificial lens will be implanted
- Stitches are not usually needed since the lens will attach and heal by itself
- A shield will be placed over your eye to protect it while it heals
- You will rest in recovery for 15-30 minutes before being discharged
What will recovery be like?
Your vision will usually start to improve within a day or so, though it may start out blurry. Since the cataract was likely a brown or yellow color, you will probably notice a remarkable difference in colors. You may experience some mild discomfort for a few days while the eye heals. If it feels itchy, avoid rubbing or touching it. Your doctor may have you wear an eye patch during the day and a shield during the night.
Eye drops may be prescribed. It is important to follow these instructions to prevent infection and to protect your eye during healing.
Your ophthalmologist will want to see you a day or two after surgery. You will have a follow-up appointment or two within the first month so the eye can be monitored closely. If both eyes are receiving surgery, your second cataract surgery will be scheduled to take place after the first eye heals. By two months, your eye should be completely healed.
You may still need to wear glasses after cataract surgery. After the eye has healed, you will need to have a new prescription for your glasses. If you chose an intraocular lens (IOL) implant, you may not need glasses or you may only need them part of the time.
At Colorado Ophthalmology, we specialize in fitting the right IOL to the right patient to improve vision and to reduce dependency on eyeglasses. Your ophthalmologist will discuss the different kinds of IOLs with you prior to your surgery.
- A monofocal IOL gives you one clear focal point. You can choose whether that point is near, middle or far. Many patients prefer to see clearly farther away so they don’t have to wear glasses for driving but only for reading and doing things close-up.
- A trifocal IOL will help you see clearly in all three positions: near, middle and far. Unlike trifocal glasses, you will be able to see in all directions.
- A toric IOL is designed for patients with astigmatism where the cornea is flatter on one side than the other. This kind of IOL can either give you monofocal or trifocal vision.
Other than these IOL choices, your ophthalmologist may recommend phakic lenses. A phakic lens helps patients with severe nearsightedness. In this case, the eye’s lens is not removed, but this lens is added to it to correct the vision.
You will be on restriction for a few days following surgery with instructions on how much you can lift and bend and how much you are safely allowed to do. It is important to rest and to allow the eye to heal without straining it during this time.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
As with any surgery or procedure, there are certain risks that come with cataract surgery2. These risks, though rare, include:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Eyelid problems
- Detachment of artificial lens
- Detachment of retina
- Secondary cataract
- Halos or glare from light
- Vision loss
What urgent conditions should I watch out for?
Complications from cataract surgery are very rare. However, if you experience any of the following, call your surgeon right away:
- Eyelid swelling
- Pain that doesn’t lessen with over-the-counter medications
- Increase or change in redness of the eye
- Flashes of light, halos, light spots in the eye
- Vision loss
Get an appointment for a cataract consultation today
If you suffer from blurred vision due to cataracts, we can help. Come to one of our two Colorado locations for a consultation to see if you are a good candidate for surgery so you can start to enjoy a more active lifestyle again. Call us today to make an appointment: