Dr. Guy Eakin: Macular degeneration causes deterioration of the macula, the central area of the retina. It's a major cause of visual impairment in the United States and as many as 11 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration.
Take an active role in managing your health care by having an open conversation with your eye doctor. You should write down your questions ahead of time and don't leave the office without understanding the recommendations for your condition, your doctor responsibilities and your responsibilities. So here are the top five questions to ask your doctor regarding your macular degeneration diagnosis.
What kind of macular degeneration do I have? There are two main forms of macular degeneration, a dry form and a wet form, which can occur in one or both eyes. The dry form is characterized by the presence of the yellow deposits called drusen in the macula. The wet form is characterized by the growth of abnormal and leaky or wet blood vessels under the macula. It's important to know which form you have so that you get the proper treatment and that your doctor clearly explains the test and any procedures that they will be performing.
Are there low vision aids or simple tests for how I can best use my remaining vision? Your doctor can recommend suggestions that can make your home safer and more operational as well as options for visual aids to help with the many daily activities.
Are their certain vitamins and minerals I should take? Studies has shown that for certain individuals a specific supplement, AREDS, can decrease the risk of vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration.
How can I best monitor the progression of my disease? Early detection is very important because there are treatments that can delay or reduce the severity of the disease. Also knowing whether or not you have it in one or both eyes will help your eye doctor work with you to develop a treatment plan. What's most important is keeping all your scheduled checkups, because monitoring the progress of AMD is one of the best defenses against severe vision loss.
Is there any new information or research concerning macular degeneration? Researchers continue to explore environmental, genetic, and dietary factors that may contribute to developing macular degeneration. New treatments are also being explored and it's possible that one of these strategies may be available in a clinical trial even one near where your leave.
So at your next scheduled eye appointment, be sure to ask your doctor these questions and take control of macular degeneration today.