When you or a loved one notices changes to personal vision and eye health, it may stem from macular degeneration. By understanding how the eye condition impacts your vision and clarifying what is macular degeneration, you will recognize the signs of the condition. It also helps you determine by taking a macular degeneration test when to seek treatment, and the appropriate solutions based on your visual health.
What is Macular Degeneration | Understanding Eye Health
In this article:
- Identifying Macular Degeneration
- Types of Macular Degeneration
- Causes of the Condition
- Symptoms of the Condition
- Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration
Identifying Macular Degeneration
Identifying macular degeneration plays an essential role in seeking treatment before you face severe vision loss or blindness. Macular degeneration is the primary cause of blindness and it impacts more than 10 million Americans each year.
The condition occurs when your macula, which is part of the retina, is damaged for any reason. The condition is complicated and the underlying causes of the problem are unknown. It does not have any single factor that may cause the condition, which complicates treatment and identifying potential risk factors.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is broken down into two types: dry and wet macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is the most common type of the condition and it impacts roughly 85 to 90 percent of individuals with the condition. It may also be called age-related macular degeneration because most individuals facing the condition are older adults.
Dry macular degeneration is a gradual condition and it occurs when the macula thins over time. As the macula thins, proteins form in clumps in your eyes. Over time, it causes a gradual loss of vision starting from the center of your vision.
Wet macular degeneration can occur at any age and is an emergency condition. It occurs when blood vessels grow under the retina and cause damage to the macula. It may cause fluid build up and it ultimately leads to scarring. Since the condition occurs suddenly, you will notice a sudden change in your vision and should seek immediate attention.
Causes of the Condition
The causes of macular degeneration are complicated and relate to multiple factors. While age plays a role in the risk of developing the condition, it is not the only risk factor associated with macular degeneration.
Environmental factors may play a role in the development of the condition. For example, physical health conditions like diabetes may increase the risk of damage to the retina and the macula. Certain lifestyle factors, like smoking, may also increase the risk of the condition.
Genetic factors also impact the risk of developing the condition. Stargardt disease is a genetic condition that causes macular degeneration in young individuals. While the impact of genetic factors may vary based on an individual’s specific background and heredity, it does contribute to the risk of developing the condition.
Symptoms of the Condition
The signs and symptoms of macular degeneration help you determine when to seek treatment for the condition. When you ask what is macular degeneration, it usually refers directly to the damages to your eyes and the symptoms you develop.
Generally, you will notice a loss of central vision. When you look straight, you may have a black or blurry spot at the center of your vision. Although the hallmark of the condition is, changes to your central vision, an eye doctor may catch the problem before it shows obvious signs and starts causing a loss of vision.
Treatment Options for Macular Degeneration
Treating macular degeneration depends on the severity of the condition. Macular degeneration is not curable. The goal of treatment is slowing the progression of the condition to prevent blindness. So macular degeneration surgery is out of the picture.
Depending on the type of macular degeneration, an eye doctor may recommend dietary changes or adjustments to your lifestyle. Wet macular degeneration may require medications to reduce abnormal blood cells in the retina and eyes. You may also take vitamins for macular degeneration. Another is to wear protective sunglasses to reduce the amount of UV rays that cause damage to your eyes.
Watch this video to know some alternative treatments for Macular Degeneration:
Macular degeneration is a complicated eye condition and you want to catch it at an early stage to prevent long-term complications with your vision. By getting regular vision exams and checking up on your eyes, you can catch the early signs of the condition and start taking measures to slow the progression of the disease. If you do notice sudden changes to your vision or you have blurred vision that gradually worsens, you may want to discuss your situation with an eye doctor and obtain appropriate treatments for your eyes.
Do you or someone you know have a macular degeneration? What treatments are you doing to prevent progression of this eye condition? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!