Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that leads to blurry vision or loss of vision due to degeneration of the macula. It is the central part of the retina, which lies in the back layer of the eye. It records the images that we see and transmit it to the brain. A healthy macula helps us to see clearly and perform tasks like reading, writing, sewing and many other activities without any trouble.
Macular degeneration is a leading cause of loss of eyesight among older people. This is the reason, it is often regarded as an Age-related Macular disorder (AMD or ARMD). It is more prevalent than glaucoma and cataract.
What are the different types macular degeneration?
There are two types of macular degeneration. Wet and dry.
Dry macular degeneration
This kind of macular degeneration happens when the macula starts thinning due to aging. It also occurs due to pigmentation in the macula. Sometimes both pigmentation and thinning can be the reason of degeneration of macula.
The dry form of macular degeneration is most common. Almost eighty percent of cases are identified as dry macular degeneration.
Dry macular degeneration occurs when there is a development of yellow spot around the macula. These spots are known as drusen. These spots develop when the degenerated old tissues deposit in the macula.
The patients with dry macular degeneration lose their central vision gradually due to degeneration of cells of the retina. Slowly, over a period of time, it can lead to total loss of vision.
Wet Macular degeneration
This kind of macular degeneration is less common. Only twenty percent are identified as wet macular degeneration.
It happens because of the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina. When these blood vessels leak blood and fluid in the retina, it causes permanent damage to the macula, leading to blind spots and loss of visual acuity.
This abnormal growth of blood vessels happens when the body tries to send more nutrients and oxygen to the retina.
There are two types of wet macular degeneration. Occult and classic. Occult macular degeneration is less severe than classic macular degeneration which leads to total loss of vision.
What are the stages of Macular degeneration?
There are three stages of macular degeneration.
- Early AMD: In this stage, there is no visible sign of macular degeneration, but there is a presence of medium size drusen or yellow deposit in the retina. It can be detected by an optometrist in a regular eye exam. This is the reason why people who have a family history of AMD should go for regular eye check-ups.
- Intermediate AMD: In this stage, there may still not be any noticeable symptoms except the slight loss of vision. Doctors can detect larger drusen and pigmentation in the retina with the help of eye tests and examination.
- Advanced AMD: At this stage, a patient experiences noticeable vision loss due to increased pigmentation.
Who are at risk of developing Macular degeneration?
People of older age are at high risk of developing macular degeneration. The following factors increase the risk of macular degeneration:
- Genetics: Genes play a vital role in the development of AMD. It is common in people who have a family history of AMD.
- Smoking: We all understand that smoking is bad for our health. It triggers many respiratory diseases as well as eye problems. Smokers are more vulnerable to AMD.
- Race: AMD is more common in people of certain races like Caucasian and white females of older age.
- Sun exposure: According to research and study of patients with AMD, it was concluded that there is a relation between overexposure to ultraviolet rays and macular degeneration.
- Diet: People who have high cholesterol levels and have unhealthy fats in their diet are more prone to this disease. People who have a high amount of rice, flour, and sugar that increases the blood sugar level rapidly have a high chance of developing macular degeneration.
How can we prevent Macular degeneration?
Although there aren’t any guaranteed ways of preventing macular degeneration, some steps to improve vision and overall health can be taken.
Dr. Durocher, a Hendersonville Optometrist, suggests the following tips that may lower the risk of macular degeneration:
- Maintaining the right body weight.
- Maintaining the right blood sugar levels and correct blood pressure levels.
- Eating a balanced diet full of green leafy vegetables, cereals, fruits, and fish.
- Protecting the eyes from ultraviolet rays of the sun by wearing sunglasses and hats.
- Visiting the doctor regularly for an eye checkup.
Proper knowledge about macular degeneration can help us to avoid it and allows us to help people suffering from it.