Macular degeneration is a potentially sight threatening eye condition affecting the small area of the retina, that is involved with both central and detail vision. This area is known as the macula. As this critical area of the retina begins to deteriorate, the associated loss of central and detail vision can make close-up work such as reading small print or street signs, very difficult or even impossible. Macular degeneration can be a heartbreaking experience, as it can sometimes make even recognizing the faces of your most beloved family members difficult, as a result of exceedingly blurry or blank spots in the center of your vision, which are characteristic of these conditions. Unfortunately, macular degeneration usually comes on slowly. This can often lead to it being completely overlooked until significant sight has already been lost. Routine eye exams, especially after the age of 40, are essential for early detection and treatment.
After detection, your eye doctor will work hard to understand the specifics of your case and how to best treat your individual case of macular degeneration to prevent your eyesight from deteriorating drastically. Fortunately, optometrists have recently developed specialty genetic tests that can provide information about specific genetic markers that are known to contribute to sudden, rapid vision loss and deterioration of cases of mild, or dry, macular degeneration into the more severe, or wet, macular degeneration.
The test is designed with maximum patient comfort and convenience in mind. To this end, it is made to be as non-invasive as possible. Your eye doctor simply collects a swab sample from the inside of your cheek. The swab is then air dried and sent off to a lab for testing.
While there are no known cures for macular degeneration, an indication of high risk in your genetic testing will inform both you and your doctor of the need to create a special program to reduce risk factors that are under your control that may otherwise lead to a faster progression of vision loss. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend you stop. Your doctor may also be able to put you on specialty vision-friendly supplements and advise you on what foods you may be able to eat to reduce your risk through diet. You may also ask your eye doctor about the possibility of starting special treatments such as microcurrent stimulation and oxygen inhalation.
For more information about macular degeneration, genetic testing and treatment options, contact your eye doctor today.