Dr. Rachel: How to screen yourself for the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S.

NEW ORLEANS -- Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S.

It's more common than cataracts and glaucoma combined, and it's a condition that's near and dear to the heart of our teaching doctor, Dr. Rachel Reitan.

Dr. Rachel's father suffers from the disease.

Macular degeneration occurs when the central portion of the retina, called the macula, deteriorates, causing loss of central vision so you lose your ability to read, drive, recognize faces, colors and see objects in fine detail.

The cause of macular degeneration is unknown, but genetics plays a part.

There is no cure for Macular Degeneration. But there are treatments to prevent further vision loss.

You can do self-screening at home with the use of an Amsler grid. Here's what to do:

  • Tape the grid at eye level.
  • If you wear reading glasses put them on, cover one eye.
  • Fix your vision on the center black dot.
  • Keep your vision fixed and see if any lines are distorted or missing.
  • Then test your other eye.

If you have distortion or missing lines, get to your eye doctor ASAP. If you have any other medical questions, email Dr. Rachel at drrachel@wgno.com.