Vision loss is something that can come in many different forms due to the process of aging. However, one specific form of central-vision loss known as dry macular degeneration can pose serious problems if not given proper attention.
"Dry macular degeneration (AMD) is an aging change that causes tissue under the retina to disappear slowly," explained Dr. Richard Breazeale, M.D., with Southeastern Retina Associates. "This causes the central retina
to work poorly, eventually leading to central-vision loss."
There is currently no treatment available for the condition. However, investigative studies are being done on certain
types of AMD.
"We at Southeastern Retina Associates in Chattanooga have been chosen as a site for a clinical trial being run at
select centers worldwide to evaluate the effectiveness of a new medicine on slowing the progression of geographic atrophy, which is a type of dry macular degeneration," said Dr. Breazeale.
The ongoing damage to the retina takes time, which is why AMD is recognized as age-related, according to Dr.
Breazeale. Patient genetics can also come into play.
Patients with geographic atrophy and visual acuity of 20/100 or better are ideal candidates for this new study available at Southeastern Retina Associates.
For those not participating in the study, there are some key preventive measures to be taken, including not smoking cigarettes, paying attention to diet and maintaining a regular exercise routine.
If left completely untreated, dry macular degeneration can cause severe central-vision loss over time. "It can also increase the risk of developing new blood vessels under the retina (wet macular degeneration), which can rob patients of central vision quickly," he noted. "There are excellent therapies available presently for wet macular degeneration."
For anyone concerned that they may be facing dry macular degeneration, Dr. Breazeale advises talking to your eye doctor right away and asking about your risks. "Ask your eye doctor if it might be appropriate to refer you for further evaluation by a retina specialist at Southeastern Retina Associates," he said.
On the first appointment at Southeastern Retina Associates, patients can expect a comprehensive eye
evaluation, including a detailed examination of the vitreous and retina, which may last up to three hours. Drops are
applied to the eyes to dilate the pupils so that the retinas can be examined. Doctors recommend patients bring a companion to drive them home.
Southeastern Retina Associates has offices in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, and Dalton and Rome, GA, and can be reached at 423-756-1002. For more information about the practice or to schedule an appointment, visit southeasternretina.com