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You wouldn't want to give up any part of your vision, but if there's one part of it you would miss most, it would probably be your central field of vision. This zone is the responsibility of a part of the retina called the macula — and when macular degeneration occurs, the damage to this area can rob you of your ability to read, drive or even see the faces of your loved ones clearly. This age-related disease may develop so slowly that the macula becomes damaged before you notice vision problems. Fortunately, Forsight Vision can catch macular degeneration in its earliest stages and administer treatments to help you retain useful eyesight.
Macular degeneration generally becomes evident during or following middle age and tends to strike women more frequently than men. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, light-colored irises, heredity and hypertension. Long-term exposure to UV rays and blue light (such as that emitted by LED monitors) may also be a factor. There are two primary types of macular degeneration, "dry" and "wet." Most people have the dry variety, which is characterized by irregularities in the macular pigment and yellowish deposits on the macula known as drusen. The rarer wet variety, which also tends to cause more serious vision loss, is characterized by the creation of abnormal, weak-walled blood vessels that can produce scarring and blood leakage in the eye.
As unnerving as it may be to think of a disorder that can cause permanent damage even before it displays symptoms, it's comforting to realize that you have one great weapon in your possession -- preventative checkups. Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect macular degeneration long before it starts to affect your vision. Your Long Grove optometrist (Dr. Todd Cohan or Dr. Emily Pott) will dilate your pupils and examine the back of the eye in detail for any telltale drusen deposits or retinal abnormalities. Schedule these exams every year to get the maximum "early warning." Through our Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) measurement, we can determine if you are at risk for developing macular degeneration and can recommend and provide an ocular nutrition protocol to reduce your risk.
If you are diagnosed with macular degeneration, our approach to treatment may depend on which type of macular degeneration you have. Both the dry and the wet varieties can benefit greatly from dietary plans that include supplementation with lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and/or Vitamins C and E. Other lifestyle adjustment such as smoking cessation and weight loss may also slow the progress of the disease or prevent it from ever reaching an advanced stage. Injectable medications can also be prescribed to fight wet macular degeneration by controlling new blood vessel growth. For advanced cases of blood vessel proliferation that include bleeding underneath the retina, we can even refer you to a specialist for laser procedures that can close these blood vessels.
Don't allow macular degeneration to creep up on you and take away your central vision. Call Forsight Vision today at (847) 955-9393 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist in our Long Grove office.
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