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Macular Degeneration Awareness Month: What Is Macular Degeneration and How Is It Treated?

Macular degeneration is an eye-threatening disease that affects the small area of your retina that is involved with central and detail vision, called the macula. Deterioration of this important area of your eye, with its consequent harm to your central and detail vision, may make detail work such as threading a needle or activities such as reading small print or street signs, increasingly difficult or even impossible.

Dr. Melanie Datta-Bose of Mississauga Vision Centre in Mississauga, Ontario adds, “Macular degeneration is a heartbreaking eye condition that can sometimes make even recognizing the faces of your most beloved family members difficult, since the deterioration of your macula often makes exceedingly blurry or blank spots in the center of your vision. Since this condition comes on slowly, it is easily overlooked until significant sight has been lost. For this reason, routine eye exams, especially after the age of 40, are absolutely essential for early detection and treatment.”

Two types of macular degeneration exist, dry and wet:

Dry Macular Degeneration is the much more common form, with symptoms including blurry distance and/or reading vision, colors seeming much less vivid and difficulty seeing in dim lighting. Dry macular degeneration can affect one eye or both. Macular degeneration that affects only one eye is often more difficult to detect without an eye exam, since your brain will compensate by filling in gaps in your bad eye with visual information obtained from your good eye. In this way, you may not even see holes in your vision from your bad eye, since your good eye is compensating.
Wet Macular Degeneration is much more rare, and considered considerably more dangerous because of its known tendency to worsen drastically in a remarkably short amount of time. Symptoms of this form of macular degeneration are similar to the dry form. You may also notice that straight lines seem to be bent or crooked.

Regular eye exams are an absolute must for people over the age of 40 and those otherwise considered at heightened risk of macular degeneration, such as those with a family history of this eye condition. During your exam, our Mississauga and Brampton eye doctors will need to examine your retina and macula as thoroughly as possible for signs of irregularities that may signal macular degeneration.

This is where Ocular Coherence Tomography, or OCT, comes in.  The OCT is the latest digital imaging technology today for the early detection of many sight-threatening eye conditions, including macular degeneration. It uses light waves to take high resolution pictures of your retina, producing such detailed images that your doctor is able to view cross-sections of your eye thinner than a human hair. This allows for the most accurate and earliest detection possible.

Although there are no federally approved techniques to treat macular degeneration, many expert studies show a link between taking certain health supplements and reduced risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin C, Vitamin E and other healthy supplements may be proven to help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration or of dry macular degeneration getting worse or developing into the wet form.

For more information, contact Mississauga Vision Centre or Brampton Vision Centre today!