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Macular Degeneration in the Eyes of the Elderly

Macular degeneration can affect vision in elderly individuals.

The macula is located at the center of the retina. This area of the eye is extremely sensitive to light and is located towards the back of a person’s eye. Additionally, the retina acts like a camera and records images so it can send them to the optic nerve for the brain to process. When you are looking straight ahead at something in your line of vision this is called your central line of vision. The portion of the retina that is responsible for this is the retina. When an elderly individual has muscular degeneration, this line of vision decreases. Commonly this disease affects individuals aged 60 years or older. While it is painless, it can be a slight nuisance as it changes previous vision levels.

Currently, there are two types of age-related macular generation (AMD) for short.

The old woman in glasses looks at the screen notebook on a white background

Unhealthy life habits such as smoking, high blood pressure, eating unhealthy, and a lack of exercise can increase your chances of obtaining AMD. As a person ages, the sharp part of the vision that man use for activities such as reading or driving is worn down. When a person has dry AMD, early signs and symptoms can include blurred vision, needing additional light, difficulty recognizing faces from a far distance, and as it advances, the presence of a blurry spot in one’s line of vision. When an elderly individual has wet AMD, it may appear as though wavy lines show up in the individual’s line of vision. Additionally, wet AMD occurs when there is abnormal blood flow to the vessels within the eye. As a person’s vessels break down due to their fragile state, they can leak fluid or blood, which causes wet AMD to form. Over 50% of elderly individuals suffer from AMD to some degree, and typically it affects both eyes, but it can also only affect a specific eye.

There is another type of degeneration called retinal drusen. This occurs when yellow deposits appear underneath the retina. Similar to macular degeneration, retinal drusen also occurs in elderly individuals over the age of 60. Retinal drusen typically can be detected by an eye doctor during an individual’s yearly eye exam, but sometimes a more comprehensive eye exam is required for a proper diagnosis. Unlike macular degeneration, you will not typically lose your vision if you are diagnosed with retinal drusen, although scientific research is still being conducted to compare the similarities and differences between macular degeneration and retinal drusen.

At this point in time, there is no cure for dry AMD, but there are treatment plans that can slow down the progression. These include maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the use of antioxidant vitamins. Additionally, elderly individuals can receive injections into their eyes with anti-angiogenic agents, which can slow down the process of wet AMD. It is crucial for a wet AMD diagnosis to be received early on. Furthermore, it is possible to classify AMD as mild, moderate, or severe based on the specific case and the severity of that case.

Any ophthalmologist or optometrist is qualified to diagnose an elderly individual with macular degeneration. For those unfamiliar with these terms, an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that is specialized in diagnosing eye diseases and is also qualified for medical or surgical treatment. When a doctor prepares an eye for a potential diagnosis, eye drops are inserted into the eye so that the retina is fully visible. At this point, it is then possible to tell if the individual has AMD and whether it is wet or dry AMD. Typically, ophthalmologists are recommended to provide a proper diagnosis regarding wet AMD. This is because these doctors specialize in this form of retinal disease.

During your eye exam, you may be asked to look at a grid called an Amsler grid. This grid is usually a checkerboard pattern and can be used to help detect symptoms of AMD. Retinal photography, fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography may also be used to help provide a diagnosis.

If you suspect you may have symptoms of macular degeneration we encourage you to consult with your doctor or an ophthalmologist. Additionally, many online resources can assist you in reading and/or learning more about macular degeneration. Furthermore, if you have questions about how this may fit into your routine at a home care agency, please contact your agency directly, as they will be happy to set up a plan of home care and work with you as you navigate through this process.