Macular Degeneration

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Lisa M. Nath, MD, LLC

Pittsburgh’s Favorite Personalized Eye Care Center, located in Bellevue, PA!

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 55 years of age. By 75, a third of us will have some degree of macular degeneration. This condition is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina. This deterioration is irreversible, and prevents our eyes from providing a clear picture of the world around us.

Macular degeneration is not a normal part of aging, though aging is easily the biggest risk factor for this disease. Because of this, it is important for all patients to be proactive in their prevention efforts. Living a healthy lifestyle and following your doctor’s advice will go a long way in preventing this debilitating loss of vision as you get older. Regular checkups with your ophthalmologist are also necessary to maintain the health of your eyes.

Dr. Lisa Nath, MD and her team of eye care professionals at Bellevue, PA. provide eye care services ranging from routine eye exams to the treatment of some of the most complex vision related problems. Our patients receive treatment using state-of-the-art diagnosis equipment such as Optical Coherence Tomography, which allows us to see highly detailed images of your retina. Our office in Bellevue, PA. is located close to major towns and cities in and around Pittsburgh, PA. Our patients love us, especially due to our prompt service approach, our personalized treatment and very minimal wait times. We are open to serve you from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Thursday and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm every Friday. Please feel free to call us at 412-734-5022 or request an appointment online. We are always happy to help!

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FAQs on Macular Degeneration:

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a condition that causes blindness in the center of one’s field of vision. This loss of sight can affect one’s ability to go through their daily routine, making it difficult to comb their hair, prepare a meal, read the newspaper, or even find something they have dropped on the floor.

In addition to losing their central line of sight, a patient’s peripheral vision becomes blurry, and the things they see "in the comer of their eye" either vanish or get lost in distortion. As the disease progresses, seeing normally and navigating the world without assistance becomes impossible.

 

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

Various risk factors can contribute to the development of macular degeneration. Some risk factors are beyond our control, including:

  • Age (particularly when we’re over 50 years of age)
  • A family history of the disease
  • Our gender (age-related macular degeneration appears twice as often in women)
  • Our iris and skin color (those with light colored eyes and skin are more at risk)

However, some factors can be addressed through healthy living habits. For example, people with a low intake of antioxidant vitamins (such as vitamins A, C and E) and minerals (such as zinc) are at a higher risk of developing this disease. A healthier diet, however, addresses this lack of nutrition.

Additionally, smoking increases your risk six times compared to someone who doesn't smoke. Quitting a smoking addiction can dramatically improve your health and reduce your risk of eye problems.

What is the Difference Between Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration?

Approximately 90 percent of cases involving this disease are the dry form of macular degeneration. Here, aging causes the macula (central area of the retina) to become thin and waste away, which distorts and blurs vision. This type of macular degeneration comes on gradually and progresses slowly.

The wet type of macular degeneration is less common, but often develops quickly and causes severe visual loss. In this type of macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These blood vessels can leak fluid or a lipid-like material, and cause macular edema (swelling). These vessels can also leak blood, causing a hemorrhage or a lifting of the macula, called a macular detachment.

Some people have the dry form of macular degeneration and never go on to develop the wet form. Nevertheless, having dry macular degeneration puts one at the highest risk of developing the more severe form.

 

How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Macular degeneration can typically be diagnosed during a standard dilated eye exam. A fluorescent angiogram may also help with diagnosis and treatment. For this test, a dye is injected into a vein in the arm. A camera records a series of photographs as the dye circulates through the retina. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is also sometimes used to determine if the retina is swollen and to evaluate its thickness.

 

How Can I Prevent Macular Degeneration?

The following healthy living habits can make a big difference in your risk of developing this eye disease:

  • Eat healthier. Specifically, eat more Vitamin A, C and E. A recent study recommended that those over 50 years of age - and those with a mother, father or sibling with macular degeneration - should take vitamins designed to delay and reduce the severity of macular degeneration.
    • Eat More Vegetables. The macula needs a high density of lutein, found in green leafy vegetables. Beta-carotene (found in carrots) is a necessary nutrient as well, as it works as an antioxidant and can help in preventing or delaying macular degeneration.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection. Even on cloudy days, wearing sunglasses is a key part of good eye care. Blocking exposure to ultraviolet light helps protect the retina.
  • Quit smoking. As mentioned earlier, smoking is a huge risk factor - beating this addiction will make a big difference in your overall risk of poor health.
  • Always get regular eye exams. Regular eye exams can tip your doctor off to any signs of danger long before you experience symptoms from an eye disease. You can prevent permanent damage to your eyes by detecting earlier onsets through regular check ups.

If you are experiencing vision loss due to macular degeneration, or if you have a higher risk of being affected by the condition, Dr. Lisa Nath, MD and her team of dedicated eye care professionals in Bellevue, PA. would be happy to help you manage this condition. Call our office at 412-734-5022 or request an appointment online to effortlessly schedule a convenient time to get your eyes checked for macular degeneration.

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