Aging leads to an overall deterioration in several organs of the body, including the eyes. This decline is often so gradual, that damage goes unnoticed until it is too late. That’s why regular eye exams are important, in order to be properly diagnose diseases such as macular degeneration, and cataracts. Each year Reston ophthalmologists treat hundreds of patients with these eye disorders.
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that is linked to the aging process, and is caused by the weakening of the macula. The macula is can be found in the retina, and makes it possible to see fine details. Damage to the macula, affects the ability to see clearly in the center field of vision. When this occurs, it becomes difficult to see objects plainly, and this affects tasks such as reading fine print, as well as driving.
In 2010, it was estimated that about 10-15 million Americans were affected by age related macular degeneration. The condition is characterized by distorted vision, usually in the form of blind spots or dark spaces in the center of vision. There are two main types of macular degeneration:
- Dry macular degeneration occurs when the tissues of the macula become very thin.
- Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. When these blood vessels leak blood and fluid, it severely damages the macula, causing blurry vision, and negatively impacting detailed vision.
Individuals with a family history of macular degeneration are at risk of getting the disease. Obesity and smoking are two other risk factors. There are several tests that eye care professionals can carry out to diagnose the presence of macular degeneration of patients in Reston.
Patients who experience blurry vision, difficulty reading fine print, dark spots in the central vision, or problems adjusting from bright to low lights, should contact their ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam.