Macular Degeneration

Raise Your Vision Awareness: Understanding Macular Degeneration

Affecting an estimated 11 million people in the US alone, macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults over 50, so February is dedicated to raising awareness about this serious vision problem – what it is, what causes it, and what treatments are available.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the result of damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina (the retina is located at the back of the eye). This highly sensitive spot is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that are responsible for clear, sharp central vision enabling us to see things straight ahead. As damage occurs, you may experience a blank spot, blurriness, or distorted vision in the center of your visual field.

Progression of the disease varies, and though macular degeneration doesn’t lead to total blindness, loss of central vision can severely impair your ability to do even everyday activities like read, write, drive, cook, and clearly see faces.

Types of AMD

  • Dry AMD, or atrophic AMD, refers the breakdown (or atrophy) of the macula. It comprises 90% of AMD cases.
  • Wet AMD affects far fewer people. Damage is caused by the membrane under the retina thickening then breaking, disrupting the oxygen supply to the macula and causing the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels.

What causes macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is often simply the result of aging, though some people are more at risk than others. It is more common among Caucasians, and family history of AMD increases risk. Research has found links between certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, and increased risk of AMD.

Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Is laser eye surgery an option for stopping or reversing macular degeneration?

Unfortunately, there is currently no specific treatment for dry AMD. Progression can be slowed from intermediate-stage dry AMD to advanced stage by taking a specific, high-dose vitamin and mineral supplement.

Wet macular degeneration can be treated with laser eye surgery as a means to stop blood or other fluids from leaking into the macula. Wet AMD can also be treated with medication that is injected into the eye.

Will laser eye surgery be a permanent solution for wet AMD?

The laser-treated blood vessels will be permanently sealed; however, this does not prevent new spots from beginning to leak.

Minneapolis Leaders in Vision Correction and Laser Eye Surgery

Eyes are your windows to the world, but time can slowly take a toll on your vision. If you aren’t vigilant or don’t take your eye health seriously, you run the risk of developing both permanent damage to your eyes and vision loss.

Minneapolis is home to Claris Eye Care & Surgery, an ophthalmic office dedicated to helping patients have the best vision possible. Dr. Carlson and the Claris ophthalmic team are highly knowledgeable and experienced in treating people suffering from AMD and other vision problems, including:

Dr. Carlson and the Claris team can help you understand AMD and your treatment options. Treatment is a process of regular office visits to monitor your vision and addressing changes, and between visits, you can test your central vision at home using the Amsler grid – any blurriness or distortion in the lines can indicate a progression in your AMD. With AMD and all eye health issues, being proactive is important.

Twenty years of experience in laser eye surgery and other vision correction procedures make Claris and Dr. Carlson the best choice in Minneapolis for your eye health and vision care. If you have any questions or concerns about your vision – from macular degeneration to cataracts or LASIK laser eye surgery, feel free to call the Claris office at 612.775.8009 or email at

Aged Generation – Macular Degeneration

Did you know that macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in America? It is also the most common cause of permanent vision loss in the world. Because it generally affects those aged 55 and older, and is simply due to the aging of the eye, it is also referred to as age related macular degeneration (AMD or AMRD).

As I reach another milestone birthday and half a century of
“lookin’ at the bright side,” I am starting to see that the human bodyAMD macular degeneration inevitably declines or deteriorates, and all the positive thinking in the world can’t stop that from happening to my generation. However, in combination with the Phillips Eye Institute and our Retinal Partners in Patient care, Claris Eye Care & Surgery has the latest technology and procedures for detecting and treating AMD I know I am receiving the best care possible.

The deterioration of the macula- the portion of the retina responsible for focusing central vision in the eye- can cause two possible forms of AMD. Patients with the “dry” form of AMD may have better central eyesight, but they experience reduced color perception, fluctuated vision and trouble reading- especially in low light. About 10 % of the cases have what is called “wet AMD”, caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina and macula, quickly distorting or destroying central vision.

Since you care about protecting and improving your eyesight, and you come in to Claris for checkups regularly, I’m sure you probably already know this- but just in case, I’m going to remind you! There are several factors that may put you at risk for macular degeneration, many of them seem to go hand-in hand with one another:

  • AGE: As I mentioned AMD increases as you age and is most common in people over age 65.
  • FAMILY HISTORY OF AMD: You are more likely to develop macular degeneration if someone in your immediate family has/had it.
  • RACE: AMD is more common in Caucasians than other races.
  • SMOKING:  It increases your risks. Seriously, just quit already!
  • OBESITY: Being severely overweight increases your chances of AMD progressing rapidly to the more severe form of the disease.
  • CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: Having prior diseases affecting your heart and or blood vessels may increase the risk of AMD.
  • ELEVATED CHOLESTEROL: It simply puts you at a higher risk of AMD.

If you find yourself wondering if perhaps you are at risk make an appointment with Claris immediately. Don’t wait.

When you come to check for AMD, the first thing you can expect is to have a thorough eye exam during which the doctor will examine you eyes with an ophthalmoscope to see if any damage is present in the macula. If there is, further testing will be done with something called an Amsler’s Grid or Amsler’s Chart. Using the grid at home properly after deducing a baseline pattern, will enable you to detect any subtle changes in your vision and you may notice areas of distortion, wavy lines or blank spots. For the best quality care, Claris Eye Care & Surgery is always on the forefront of technology. With their newest state of the art Zeiss VISUCAMPRO NM fundus camera, which increases the quality of fundus imaging and sets the standard in ophthalmic photography, they can photograph the interior surface of the eye which enhances fundus visualization and helps to document and treat AMD.

If macular degeneration goes undetected it can result in permanent vision loss. But if you come in to Claris for an examination, and catch it early, there are a number of options that exist to treat it!

For starters, medical treatment with supplements like vitamins C, E, zinc, copper and beta-carotene have proven to be effective in reducing the rate of progression of AMD.  We have a couple of products that we recommend that are based on the AREDS formula including FOCUS Macula Pro and PRN Macular Vitamin Benefit.

Direct laser treatment of wet macular degeneration is also an option. It is used to stop leakage of blood or other fluids into the macula.

There is another procedure that can be very effective in stabilizing a patient’s vision, which is done by a retinal specialist with a close working relationship with Claris Eye Care & Surgery. Medications are injected into the eyeball to directly stop the growth of leaking blood vessels.

You wouldn’t give up on your favorite car just because it had a breakdown right? So as a member of the newest batch of the aged generation I say,“ Don’t despair- REPAIR”.

If you have questions about macular degeneration or any of the procedures listed above and would like to schedule an appointment please contact us at 612.775.8009 or by email at