Macular Degeneration Screening Exam
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of impaired vision in the United States. It is a disease that affects the part of the retina called the macula, which is responsible for detailed central vision. In the early stages of macular degeneration, vision is usually normal and patients may be asymptomatic, but as the macular degeneration advances, the vision can become blurry and distorted centrally. There are two types of macular degeneration, commonly referred to as dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is the most common type and refers to the presence of drusen in the macula.
Some dry macular degeneration may progress to the wet type of macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels form below the retina. These blood vessels can break open and bleed causing sudden changes in vision, and severely distorted central vision.
To evaluate the eye for macular degeneration, a complete eye examination needs to be performed including an assessment of the vision, and dilation to look at the macula. A special test of the macula called an optical coherence tomography (OCT), is also used to monitor the macula and helps in detecting progression of the disease. Frequency of follow up examination and testing is determined by the severity of the macular degeneration in each eye. Treatment for dry macular degeneration usually consists of vision monitoring at home using a chart called an Amsler grid, and use of specially formulated eye vitamins. Advanced macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration may require laser treatment or injections of medication into the eye.