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story.lead_photo.caption Dr. Roshan T. George, an ophthalmologist at Collom and Carney Eye Institute in Texarkana, Texas, treats eye disease including vision loss, detached retinas, cataracts and glaucoma. (Submitted photo)

Vision loss does not have to be an inevitable part of the aging process.

Dr. Roshan T. George, an ophthalmologist at Collom and Carney Eye Institute in Texarkana, Texas treats eye disease including vision loss, detached retinas, cataracts and glaucoma.

George's specialty is retinal disease.

He performs laser retina surgery and refractive surgery and lens replacement and can do everything in Texarkana at the surgery center that adjoins the Eye Institute.

"We are trying to keep people from going out of town. It allows them to stay in Texarkana instead of having to go to Dallas or Shreveport," said George.

His practice is still relatively new. George started at Collom and Carney Eye Institute in August 2020. "So it's been post-Covid and outside of Collom and Carney, a lot of people are now aware that I am here in Texarkana and able to do these procedures."

George received his medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and did residencies at the University of Texas at Houston and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The majority of George's patients are 60 and above and have vision problems as a result of diabetes or macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that may get worse over time. It's the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people over age 60.

It happens when the small central portion of the retina, called the macula, wears down. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of your eye. "Because the disease happens as you get older, it's often called age-related macular degeneration. It usually doesn't cause blindness but might cause severe vision problems," George said.

There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration:

The dry form and the wet form. With the dry form, a person might have yellow deposits called drusen in their macula. As drusen grow and become more numerous, they might dim or distort a person's vision, especially when they read. As the condition gets worse, the light-sensitive cells in the macula get thinner and eventually die. In the atrophic form, you may have blind spots in the center of your vision. As that gets worse, you might lose central vision.

With the wet form, blood vessels grow from underneath your macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into your retina and vision becomes distorted so that straight lines look wavy. These blood vessels and their bleeding eventually form a scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.

Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form, but the dry form can lead to the wet form. Only about 10% of people with macular degeneration get the wet form.

If someone has macular degeneration, they will need to visit their eye doctor regularly.

Symptoms of macular degeneration may include blurry vision, dark or blurry areas in the center of vision and problems reading fine print or driving.

Macular degeneration may have something to do with your genes. If someone in your family has it, your risk might be higher.

There is no cure but treatments may slow it down or keep someone from losing too much of their vision.

George said just a few years ago, many people just believed they were going blind from aging, but treatment has advanced a lot in the last 10 to 15 years.

"It's always worth getting it checked out but vision problems do not always have to be a part of aging," he said.

People rarely lose all of their vision from age-related macular degeneration. Their central vision might be bad, but they're still able to do many normal daily activities.

Collom and Carney Eye Institute is located at 5402 Summerhill Road, Texarkana, Texas.

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