If you begin to see gray shadows in your vision, make a special appointment with an optometry clinic, like Envision Eyecare, and don't wait until your yearly eye exam. You may have early signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and the sooner you start treatment, the better your chances are that a serious loss of vision can be stopped.
What Is AMD?
Small blood vessels in the back of your eye begin leaking fluid. This fluid pools on the retina, blocking the light that hits it. This creates the shadows that appear across your vision. If allowed to continue, the fluid will block more of the light in a larger area, causing significant vision loss.
Diagnosing this Disease
Your optometrist will use a microscope to see inside of your eye to evaluate the condition of your retina. Let them know in what general area of your eye you see the shadows and where they appear darkest. This will help them locate the area where the fluid leak occurs. Once they have identified the area, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist for treatment.
The cause of AMD is unknown, so the treatment is focused on the symptoms. Laser surgery is commonly used to prevent AMD from damaging your vision. This procedure is done in the eye doctor's office as an outpatient. The entire procedure will take only a few minutes.
The ophthalmologist uses a microscope to look into your eye while guiding a fine laser beam onto the back of the eye. The laser closes the tiny blood vessels that are leaking fluid. Fresh pools of blood on the retina can also be dried up to reduce the shadows. Areas where the fluid has dried on the retina cannot be repaired, so any existing vision loss won't be affected.
After the Treatment
You won't notice an improvement of your vision because any existing vision loss can't be reversed. Your doctor will have you monitor your vision daily for the appearance of any new shadows. While the laser surgery removes the problem blood vessels, it dose not stop new ones from developing. These tiny blood vessels are slow growing, though, so it could be months or years before you see signs of other vision problems. You will have the AMD for the rest of your life, but it may progress so slowly as to not cause symptoms again.
Not everyone can be helped by the laser surgery. In those cases, your doctor may suggest an injection of medication directly into the eye. This medication slows down the development of the leaking blood vessels. For this treatment to be effective, you will have to continue the injections on a regular schedule for the rest of your life.