What are risk factors for macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. While the exact cause is not known, advancing age is the most common risk factor. People with a family history of macular degeneration, blue eyes, cardiovascular disease and those who smoke are also at higher risk.
Two forms of macular degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common and results from the accumulation of waste products beneath the center of the retina, the macula. Dry macular degeneration is usually associated with less severe loss of vision, if any.
Dry macular degeneration can sometimes progress to wet macular degeneration, the more serious form of macular degeneration. It's characterized by thinning of the retina to the extent that bleeding and leakage of fluid from blood vessels occur. Wet macular degeneration is associated with more severe vision loss.
How is vision affected by macular degeneration?
With macular degeneration, people lose the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces and looking at detail. For instance, a person may be able to see a clock on the wall, but not make out the time. Peripheral vision is preserved in macular degeneration, so many people maintain the ability to walk, dress and care for themselves. Short of losing the capacity to drive and read, patients with macular degeneration often maintain independent lifestyles.
Is there treatment for macular degeneration?
Injections of targeted medications are tremendously effective in recovering some or all of the vision loss caused by wet age-related macular degeneration. These medications minimize the formation of fragile new blood vessels that cause bleeding in the eyes.
What can I do to prevent macular degeneration?
To help reduce the risk of macular degeneration as you age, the doctors at University Eye Specialists recommend the following: Wear sunglasses or a brimmed hat when outdoors to limit ultraviolet sunlight exposure. If you smoke, try to quit. Finally, eat a diet rich in antioxidants, control high blood pressure and eat a low fat diet. Research by the National Eye Institute shows that ocular vitamins that contain a specialized formulation of A, C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and lutein provide protection against age-related macular degeneration and slow its progress in people who already have it. Our doctors can help you determine if supplements may be beneficial for you and the appropriate dosage.Back to top