Macular degeneration is an extremely dangerous eye condition that affects the small area of your retina, known as the macula, that is involved with both central and detail vision. Deterioration of this critical area of the eye, with the associated loss of your central and detail vision, can make close-up work like threading a needle, or every-day tasks such as reading small print or street signs, increasingly difficult or even impossible. Dr. Timothy Nichols of Clinic for Vision PC in Albertville, Alabama adds, “Macular degeneration can be a heartbreaking experience, as it can sometimes make even recognizing the faces of your most beloved family members difficult, since the deterioration of your macula often makes exceedingly blurry or blank spots in the center of your vision. Unfortunately, this condition usually comes on slowly, causing it to be easily overlooked until significant sight has already been lost. For this reason, routine eye exams, especially after the age of 40, are essential for early detection and treatment.”
Once detected, it is essential for your eye doctor to understand the specifics of how to best treat your individual case of macular degeneration to prevent your eye sight from deteriorating drastically. To this end, the optometric community has developed specialty genetic testing, that provides information to your eye doctor about certain genetic markers that are known to contribute to rapid vision loss and deterioration of mild, or dry, macular degeneration into a more severe, or wet, macular degeneration.
The test is designed with the patient in mind and is made to be as non-invasive, comfortable and convenient as possible. Your eye doctor simply collects a swab sample from inside your cheeks, which hold a remarkable amount of genetic material. The swab is then air dried and sent off to a lab for testing.
Dr. Nichols comments, “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 Dr. Nichols today.