Your eye doctor can identify changes of the macula by looking into your eyes with various instruments. A chart known as an Amsler Grid can be used to pick up subtle changes in vision.
Angiography is the most widely used macular degeneration diagnostic test. During the test, a harmless orange-red dye called Fluorescein will be injected into a vein in the arm. The dye travels through the body to the blood vessels in the retina. A special camera takes multiple photographs. The pictures are then analyzed to identify damage to the lining of the retina or atypical new blood vessels. The formation of new blood vessels from blood vessels in and under the macula is often the first physical sign that macular degeneration may develop.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) uses light waves to create a contour map of the retina and can show areas of thickening or fluid accumulation.
In the early stages of macular degeneration, regular eye check-ups, attention to diet, in-home monitoring of vision and possibly nutritional supplements may be all that is recommended.
Diet and nutritional supplements
There has been active research on the use of vitamins and nutritional supplements called antioxidants to try to prevent or slow macular degeneration. Antioxidants are thought to protect against the damaging effects of oxygen-charged molecules called free radicals. A potentially important group of antioxidants are called carotenoids. These are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their color. Two carotenoids that occur naturally in the macula are lutein and zeaxanthin. Some research studies suggest that people who have diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin may have a lower risk of developing macular degeneration. Kale, raw spinach, and collard greens are vegetables with the highest amount of lutein and zeaxanthin. You can also buy nutritional supplements that are high in these and other antioxidants.
There have been major strides in the treatment of macular degeneration over the last decade. Eye injections of medicines that inhibit bleeding have been the major recent advancement for wet macular degeneration. Very rarely is any type of laser used nowadays. Avastin, Lucentis, and the newest drug Eylea are all being used with good success. All of these are available at Baltimore Eye Physicians. These injections help stabilize vision, preventing it from getting worse, and at times even improving vision. The eye is numbed thoroughly and a very tiny syringe is used to instill the medication with little to no discomfort. Bleeding over the white part of the eye is not uncommon, but poses no threat to sight. This resolves in a week, usually without treatment.