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.
With the fresh waves of spring’s new growth comes the dreaded eye allergy season. The misery that comes from red, itchy, watery eyes may have you rethinking your love of the great outdoors. How can you get ahead of spring allergies that can cause so much eye discomfort? Colorado Ophthalmology Associates offers tips for understanding spring eye allergies—known as allergic conjunctivitis—and preventing eye problems caused by allergies.
Symptoms of Eye Allergies
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Swollen eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Burning eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Often accompanied by nasal allergies – itchy, stuffy, runny nose and sneezing
Causes of Eye Allergies
Substances in the air, such as pollen, grass pollen, ragweed pollen, pet dander, dust, smoke, perfumes, mold, and even cooking odors, irritate the eye and trigger the release of histamines to combat them. The histamines cause the eye to become red and watery and can increase the itchy feeling and the swelling.1
Eye allergies can be inherited. If both of your parents suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, your risk for inheriting the condition is greatly increased.1
Prevention of Seasonal Eye Allergies
If you suspect you will suffer from seasonal eye allergies this spring, you can begin protecting your eyes by eliminating exposure to the sources of irritation. If the fresh flowers and pollen affect you, avoid these triggers by staying indoors as much as possible. Use air conditioning and keep windows closed. Consider using special air filter units or add HEPA filters to your air conditioner and HEPA bags in your vacuum cleaner.
When you do go outside, try wearing sunglasses, goggles or eye shield to protect your eyes from the pollen. The best time to go outdoors is after a rain has settled the pollen. Avoid windy, dry days and early mornings when pollen count is at its highest. Listen to the weather reports that give pollen counts for the day. Wear a pollen mask outdoors.2
Frequently wash your hands and face to remove irritants before they are inadvertently passed onto your eyes. If you’ve been working outdoors, remove clothes and shower to remove allergens.2
Treatment for Seasonal Eye Allergies
While there are over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, that can be taken, some of them can dry out the eye and not readily improve the eye discomfort you may be experiencing. Antihistamines with diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl™ or ChlorTrimeton™ can dry out the mouth and eyes. Try medications with cetirizine or levocetirizine, fexofenadine, loratadine or desloratadine that won’t cause drowsiness or dry eyes.3
Artificial tears can quickly wash irritants from the eyes before histamines are triggered. They can also keep the eyes moist. Use according to directions on the label and no more than six times a day.4
Other eye drop options include: corticosteroid eye drops, antihistamine eye drops, or decongestant eye drops. These should be used as directed and under the supervision of your ophthalmologist.4
Finally, there are immunotherapy shots that may be prescribed to help with severe seasonal allergies. Ask your ophthalmologist if you are a good candidate for this treatment option.4
Discuss your seasonal eye allergies with your ophthalmologist
Ready to nip your allergies in the bud? Call us today for an appointment and come to one of our two Colorado locations for a consultation. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are experienced in helping everything from mild to severe cases of spring allergies so you can enjoy the season free from eye discomfort.