Gulf Coast Eye Care

Macular Degeneration

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Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, also called Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD), is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 60. It is caused by the natural aging process that may gradually cause “wear and tear” on the part of the eye known as the macula. The macula makes up the center of vision in the retina, the sensory layer in the back of your eye.

Risk Factors & Symptoms

Risk factors for macular degeneration include family history, age greater than 60, smoking, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Many of these modifiable risk factors are the same as for cardiovascular disease. Thus, smoking cessation, exercise, weight control, blood pressure control, sun protection, proper nutrition, and yearly eye examinations are all important steps to help prevent this disease.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include blurred vision, distortion of vision where object that should normal appear straight may appear bent or wavy, and the appearance of a blind spot or empty area in the center of your vision. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is important to have an eye doctor examine your eyes to determine whether dry or wet type macular degeneration may be present. Each of these types is treated differently and may require vitamin supplementation or specific medications to slow or reverse the disease process.

If you have risk factors for macular degeneration or if you are experiencing these symptoms, please contact us at Gulfcoast Eye Care so that we may set up a consultation for you.

Nutrients for Macular Health

There are a number of key nutrients that are important in maintaining your eye health. While these can be obtained by maintaining a balanced, nutritent-rich diet, some experts say that it is unlikely that you will consume adequate quantities of some of these nutrients by diet alone. Nutrients that should be included in an ideal eye vitamin are vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc (with copper). Lutein and zeaxanthin as well as omega-3 fatty acids in the form of DHA and EPA also appear to be key nutrients for macular health.

The following is a list of each of these nutrients and their respective natural dietary sources:

  • Vitamin C – fruits and vegetables
  • Vitamin E – fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds
  • Zinc – red meat (such as grass-fed beef)
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin – fruits and vegetables but especially leafy green vegetables (such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and swiss chard), corn, persimmons, egg yolks, and goji berries (these have been used to maintain eye health in Chinese medicine for thousands of years)
  • Omega-3’s – cold-water fish (tuna, wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, lake trout, Atlantic halibut, and herring)

Evaluation and Testing

At Gulfcoast Eye Care, we evaluate you for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and other eye conditions with some of the most advanced technology available. One such test, Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (SD-OCT) is used for the diagnosis and treatment of ARMD. Also called Fourier-domain or high-definition OCT, this test is faster, more detailed and more accurate than time domain OCT. SD-OCT is an improvement over conventional OCT because of its three-dimensional, high-speed, high-resolution capabilities. SD-OCT has approximately 65 times higher resolution than time domain OCT. In fact, instead of producing 400 A-scans per second, the SD-OCT captures a staggering 18,000 to 40,000 A-scans per second. This enables our doctors to get incredibly detailed images very quickly — often fast enough to be unaffected by a patient’s movement or blink.

In circumstances where the retina cannot be adequately visualized due to cloudiness of the cornea, lens, or vitreous, our doctors use ultrasonography to view your retina and other structures of your eye. This painless test utilizes the same kind of technology that enables other types of doctors to visualize a baby while in the womb. With this technology, we can view tumors in the back of the eye, retinal detachments, floaters, and other disease processes when they cannot be viewed directly.

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