With the aging of the Baby Boom Generation, loss of eyesight through age-related macular degeneration is expected to hit epidemic proportions by the year 2030, with more than 6.3 million Americans suffering its effects. Facing those numbers, it is important to know just what is macular degeneration and what is known about it.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
As a person ages, particularly as they reach 55 years and older, they are more likely to succumb to a deterioration of the macula. This is the part of the eye, located in the rear portion of the retina, that focuses the central vision and records images that are then sent to the brain via the optic nerve. The macula allows us to view objects in minute detail, see colors, recognize faces, and drive a car.
Macular degeneration manifests itself in two forms. The dry version has no symptoms and is milder than the wet form, which involves the growth of blood vessels that are abnormal for the back of the eye. Nearly 90 percent of macular degeneration cases are of the dry variety.
What Are The Associated Symptoms Of Macular Degeneration?
When the macula deteriorates, it will result in the gradual loss of central vision. The disease progresses in stages. Early age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, usually involves no vision loss, but can be determined in an eye exam with the location of yellow deposits under the retina. The intermediate stage is defined by larger deposits and possible changes in the retina’s pigmentation. There still may not be any vision loss at this stage. Late stage AMD will have more noticeable loss of central vision.
Science still has not determined the exact causes of macular degeneration, though they have been determined to be complex, involving both environment and heredity. Research also has not established a cure for the disease. However, once diagnosed, its progress can be slowed by following certain lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light, and exercise.
Smoking has been found to be a major risk factor for macular degeneration, doubling the chances that an individual will contract the condition. Other risk factors include having a family history of AMD and a person’s race. Whites are at higher risk than Latinos or African Americans.
It is possible that a proper diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. Studies seem to indicate that eating a diet rich in the antioxidants lutein and omega-3, which is vital for heart and eye health, can lower the risk. Foods that fit this description include seafood and dark, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. Vegetables and fruits with bright colors, including corn, oranges, red grapes, and mangoes, also can be of help.
Maintaining your eye health is important. If you are looking for a highly-qualified eye doctor in Chelsea, New York, then please contact us for an eye exam today. We are committed to providing each patient with quality vision solutions. Our staff holds firmly to the value of offering excellent service, care and products through friendly, positive and professional teamwork.