There are many conditions which affect our eyes, some of which are more serious than others. One thing is for sure, though: we should always get them checked just to be safe. One particular condition which affects thousands of people around the world is macular degeneration, an age-related blurring of the vision. This article will give you more information on the causes, symptoms and treatments for macular degeneration. If you want to learn more, read on!
Macular Degeneration: What is this Condition?
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Our knowledge of macular degeneration and number of reported cases is growing due to patient awareness, improvements in technology for discovery and physician access. As our older population is growing, there is an increased risk in developing the condition.
Also known as age-linked macular degeneration, the condition is caused by a distressed macula, which is located in the central part of the eye and is responsible for the effectiveness of our central vision (aka our direct view, as opposed to our peripheral vision).
The macula is the central part of the retina, a tissue layer consisting of nerves and receptors that sense and transmit light signals coming from the eyes towards the optic nerves. It is from there that the optic nerve directs the information to the brain to be interpreted as vision. This is what we use for reading, recognizing faces and more.
Age-associated macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for people aged 55 years old or older, and because tour overall life expectancy is increasing, the condition has now become a major problem.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of the condition:
- Wet form: this type of macular degeneration is often characterized by the abnormal blood vessels that grow under the macula. These blood vessels have a tendency to leak, thus diminishing or distorting the central vision. This particular type affects about 10 to 15 percent of people.
- Dry form: this type of macular degeneration is signified by a slow blurring of the central vision. The round and small yellow-white spots known as drusen may accumulate underneath the macula.
Causes of Macular Degeneration
The main cause of macular degeneration is actually unknown, but we do know that our risk of developing it grows as we get older. It is tremendously rare in people under the age of 50. Some factors that may increase the risk of macular degeneration include:
- Light Exposure
- Dietary Fat
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
The symptoms of the condition develop gradually, and many do not appear during the early stages. However, the main symptom is a blurring of the central vision.
Wet Macular Degeneration Symptoms:
- Blind spots in the central vision
- More quickly-appearing symptoms
Dry Macular Degeneration Symptoms:
- Hazy vision
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Dull or muted colors
- Blurry vision
- Needing brighter light to read
- Only one eye is affected
Treatments for Macular Degeneration
The treatments for macular degeneration actually vary, depending on what type it is.
Wet Macular Degeneration
This type of macular degeneration needs to be treated immediately in order for the treatments to be effective. Any loss of sight is hard to recover. Treatments include:
- Implantable telescope
- Stem cell therapy
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamins and minerals
- Photodynamic therapy
Dry Macular Degeneration
This type of macular degeneration is actually not curable, but those who have it will not go completely blind. With the proper help, patients may be able to do some things to make their writing and reading much easier.
To help reduce risk of the condition, you may do the following:
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in leafy greens
- Exercise daily
- Avoid smoking
With the proper care, attention and treatments, macular degeneration will vanish.