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Macular Degeneration

Rocky Mountain Eye Center -  - Ophthalmology

Rocky Mountain Eye Center

Ophthalmology & Optometry located in Missoula, Hamilton, Butte & Helena, MT

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss among adults over age 60. Retina specialists Scott Guess, MD, and Jacek Kotowski, MD, test for and treat macular degeneration at Rocky Mountain Eye Center clinics in Missoula and Hamilton, Montana. To find out what you can do to reduce your risk or slow the progression of macular degeneration, call or book an appointment online today.

Macular Degeneration Q & A

What is Macular Degeneration?

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The macula is a small spot at the center of your retina that allows you to focus on objects straight in front of you. This is the most sensitive part of your retina, made up of millions of light-sensing cells. These cells provide the sharp focus necessary to read, drive, and perform detail-oriented tasks.

When the macula starts to deteriorate, you experience central vision loss but maintain peripheral vision. For example, you may look at a clock and see the numbers but not the hands. Although macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness, the loss of central vision dramatically affects your quality of life.

What are the Types of Macular Degeneration?

There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.

  • Dry Macular Degeneration: Dry macular degeneration is the most common type, accounting for about 85%-90% of all cases. With this type, parts of the macula become thin with increasing age and develop tiny clumps of protein called drusen. The dry type causes a slow loss of central vision.
  • Wet Macular Degeneration: This type is less common but more serious. When you have wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak blood and other fluids. This causes vision loss at a much faster rate.


How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed and Treated?

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First, your doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam and reviews your medical and family history. People with a family history of macular degeneration are at higher risk of developing this condition.

To diagnose macular degeneration, they may perform the following tests:

  • Amsler grid test to check for blurry or blank spots
  • Pupil dilation to examine the inside of your eye
  • Optical coherence tomography to provide detailed images of the macula


Once they diagnose your condition, you will be referred to Dr. Guess or Dr. Kotowski, and they will recommend the best course of treatment. Dry macular degeneration has no treatment, but healthy lifestyle changes, such as taking nutritional supplements, may slow the progression of the disease.

Dr. Guess or Dr. Kotowski may treat wet macular degeneration with medications or laser surgery.

To find out if you have macular degeneration, call Rocky Mountain Eye Center or book an appointment online today.