Macular Degeneration Types and Diagnosis

Close-up shot of a woman’s eye reflecting a lightThe doctors at Broberg Eye Care can help you understand your macular degeneration diagnosis so we can provide effective treatment and minimize the effects of the disease. Preventive care and early detection are particularly important for patients over the age of 50, since this condition is typically age-related. At best, macular degeneration can be a daily annoyance and at worst, it can cause serious vision impairment. Understanding how this condition works can help you spot your symptoms and seek proper treatment. Dr. Peter Broberg, Dr. Halsey SettleDr. William McGlathery, and Dr. Ximena de Sabra are committed to helping patients become educated about macular degeneration types and diagnosis. Contact our Austin, TX office today to schedule an appointment.

Types of Macular Degeneration

The macula is the tissue at the center of the retina, the portion of the eye that transmits nerve impulses to the brain. These vital tissues allow you to see clearly, so if they begin to break down, it can blur or obstruct your vision. There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • Dry macular degeneration is much more common, accounting for approximately 90 percent of cases. Over time or as the result of certain medical conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, or a family history of this disease, the macula weakens and degrades. Without strong macular tissue, the eye gradually loses its ability to see sharply, slowly worsening your eyesight. Improperly functioning macula can also accumulate debris and proteins that further impair vision. Dry macular degeneration can develop quickly, but it usually advances slowly, creating minor dullness or blurriness in the center of your field of vision.
  • Wet macular degeneration is a more acute condition in which abnormal blood vessels develop around the macula and leak blood onto the tissues, causing scarring and splotches in the center of vision. Some patients suffer from wet and dry macular degeneration, with changes in the macula leading to the growth of abnormal blood vessels. The symptoms of wet macular degeneration are more noticeable, as this condition often creates distortions and blind spots.

Screening for Macular Degeneration

While it is not completely curable, early detection of macular degeneration can slow the progression of the disease and preserve your remaining eyesight. At your regular eye exam, our ophthalmologists will screen for macular degeneration with visual exams, which can include:

  • Reading a Snellen eye chart to check your prescription, which may begin to worsen as a result of macular degeneration
  • Using dilating eye drops to more thoroughly assess the health of your retina
  • Creating a precise 3D map of your eye using optical coherence tomography, passing light waves through your eye to look for any abnormalities
  • Checking for distortions in the center of your eyesight by having you look at a special grid

To screen for wet macular degeneration, we may also perform a florescein angiogram, during which your doctor will inject your arm with a special fluorescent substance and monitor how it interacts with the ocular blood vessels. Since macular degeneration can also be hereditary, we also use RetnaGene™ genetic testing to evaluate your potential risk of developing this condition.

Should our doctors diagnose you with macular degeneration, we will refer you to our trusted partner retinal specialist for advanced treatment, which can limit the impact of this disease.

Learn More about Macular Degeneration

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