Monthly Archives: February 2014

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