Your Sikeston and Poplar Bluff Optometrist Explain Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration causes progressive visual distortion and blank spots in your central field of vision if allowed to progress unchecked to an advanced stage. This progression may take two distinct forms over time, with two different sets of symptoms visible to our Sikeston and Poplar Bluff optometrist at Dr. Obermark Health Care. These categories are known as dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. Let us examine what these types of macular degeneration are — and how they affect your ocular well being.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry (or atrophic) macular degeneration is the first form of this eye disease to appear — and up to 90 percent of patients remain in this stage instead of moving on to wet macular degeneration. It generally occurs when the macular tissues become abnormally thin and the cells that support your photoreceptors break down, causing your macula to lose function. This process can occur so gradually that you may not notice any vision loss until it is well under way. Regular eye exams are critical so our eye doctor can look for the presence of tiny deposits on the macula known as drusen, an early manifestation of the disease.

Wet Macular Degeneration

In a small percentage of cases, macular degeneration progresses to the wet or neovascular stage. Wet macular degeneration causes the development of abnormal blood vessels. These blood vessels grow in response to breakdowns in the retinal membrane as the body tries to maintain a blood and oxygen supply to the retina; a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) triggers quick blood vessel growth. But these blood vessels tend to have weak walls and leak blood, leading to macular scarring that can rapidly destroy your vision.

Treatment Approaches by Our Eye Doctor

Our eye doctor at Dr. Obermark Eye Health Care takes different treatment approaches to each form of macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration cannot be arrested through medical treatment, but reducing the lifestyle factors that encouraged its development in the first place can help minimize its progress. Recommendations may include smoking cessation, improving the nutritional content and balance of your everyday diet, and protecting your eyes against UV and blue light exposure (including the blue light emitted by electronic devices).

Wet macular degeneration can often be controlled through a nutritional supplementation plan known as ARENDS2. This combination of nutrients may help you prevent intermediate wet macular degeneration from becoming advanced. We may also recommend injections of medications that curb VEGF production to stop abnormal blood vessels from forming. In severe cases, we may refer you for laser treatments to seal off the leaky blood vessels.

Worried About Macular Degeneration? Contact Our Poplar Bluff and Sikeston Optometrist

Don’t let macular degeneration destroy the most critical part of your eyesight. Call today for a comprehensive eye exam so our Poplar Bluff and Sikeston optometrist can detect and treat it!