Macular Degeneration

Accent Vision Specialists

Optometric Physicians & Dry Eye Disease Specialists located in Santa Fe, NM

Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss and affects more than 10 million Americans. A healthy macula is important for reading, driving, and anything that requires you to see straight ahead. A damaged macula affects your ability to do many everyday things. At Accent Vision Specialists, Dwight Thibodeaux, OD, and Paul Tachau, OD, offer tests for early detection and treatments of macular degeneration to preserve as much of your vision as possible and halt the disease’s progression. To make your appointment, call the Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Macular Degeneration Q & A

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an age-related issue where your macula is damaged. Your macula is a small spot near the center of your retina that regulates sharp, central vision. 

When it’s damaged, you start seeing in less detail and lose your central vision regardless of whether the object you’re looking at is nearby or far away.

Because of the placement of the macula, while you lose sight in the front parts of your vision, your peripheral, or side vision, remains normal. So if you’re looking at a clock, you could see the clock’s numbers but not the hands in the middle.

What causes macular degeneration?

Age is the main risk factor for macular degeneration and the condition is most likely to appear after age 60. However, you're more likely to develop it if you smoke, are overweight, or eat a diet rich in saturated fats. 

Your chance of developing macular degeneration is also higher if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or have a family history of macular degeneration. It’s also known to disproportionately affect people who are white.

How is macular degeneration diagnosed?

The early stages of macular degeneration usually have no symptoms so regular eye exams are important.

During your exam, the team checks your vision and does a dilated eye exam to check your retina, the part of your eye that processes light.

After putting special drops in your eyes that widen your pupils, your vision specialist looks at your optic nerve and the back of your retina with a magnifying glass, checking for small yellow deposits, called drusen, that are a common early sign of macular degeneration.

Your provider may also ask you to look at an Amsler grid. If the lines in this pattern of checkerboard-like straight lines appear wavy or distorted, you could be in the early stages of macular degeneration.

What treatments do you offer for macular degeneration?

While macular degeneration isn’t curable, specialists at the practice work with you to reduce your risk of developing it and possibly slow its progression if you already have it.

Your provider suggests a number of lifestyle changes to help preserve your vision like:

  • Changing your diet
  • Exercising more
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Using UV protection

If it’s time for your annual eye exam or if you haven’t had an exam in a while, call our office to schedule an appointment so you can be checked for signs of macular degeneration.