A blind spot, or scotoma, can be caused by various eye diseases as well as optic nerve, brain and even psychological conditions. Some health problems such as migraine disease may cause temporary blind spots, but a scotoma caused by eye disease is typically located in one section of the eye. Macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease that causes a blind spot in the center of your visual field.
Our eye doctors at Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons can determine the cause of your vision changes during a comprehensive eye exam.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) primarily affects people 50 and older and steals your central vision over time or rapidly, depending on the form of the eye disease. Your peripheral (side) vision stays intact, but you’ll have difficulty seeing details like the hands of a clock and recognizing faces. Scotomas caused by AMD may not be a completely black spot or void — you may have an off-white, cloudy or gray area with macular degeneration.
Light is directed through your cornea, pupil and lens and focused onto the light-sensitive tissue (retina) at the back of your eye. Your retina has two main parts: The large outer area is the peripheral retina, and the macula is the tiny bit at its center. AMD breaks down your macula, damaging the tissues and blood vessels and leading to blurriness, scotomas and distorted or dark areas in your vision.
AMD has two forms, one of which is progressive and may cause rapid vision loss:
- Dry AMD is most common and makes up 80 percent of cases. It occurs when proteins in the macula create tiny clumps or “drusen” that grow along with age-related thinning of the macula. There is no way to treat dry AMD, but a vitamin regimen and a healthy diet may slow its progression.
- Wet AMD is rarer but a severe concern that occurs when new, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina and leak blood and other fluids. The weak blood vessels and leakage cause macular scarring that damages your vision quickly. Wet AMD causes vision loss much faster than dry AMD, and you may have no idea you have this form of AMD until you experience extreme blurry vision. You need medical treatment with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible for wet AMD to salvage your eyesight with anti-VEGF treatments to limit abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage.
Are You at Risk for AMD?
People over 50 have a higher risk of developing AMD, but several other risk factors can influence your chances of central vision loss to this eye disease. An unhealthy lifestyle that includes a diet high in saturated fat, smoking cigarettes and being overweight can increase your likelihood of AMD. If you have a family history of AMD, high blood pressure, heart disease or high cholesterol, you’re also more at risk. AMD seems to affect Caucasian people at a higher rate.
Don’t wait to schedule an eye exam if you have blind spots in your center vision. Schedule your appointment at Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to save your eyesight.