Macular degeneration, which is also called AMD (age-related macular degeneration), is a cause of irreversible vision loss, especially among individuals 50 years and older. Statistics show that more than 11 million adults in the United States have some type of macular degeneration. The alarming thing is that scientists believe this number will double by the year 2050.
How can you protect yourself or your loved ones from this common eye disease? The first step of prevention is to know what this eye disease is, what causes it, its symptoms, and how to prevent it.
AMD is a result of the deterioration of the macula. The macula is a part of the central portion of the retina used to store images. It sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve. The macula helps in seeing objects, recognizing colors and faces, and controlling the ability to read, among other things. AMD can affect one or both eyes.
During the initial stages of AMD, the macula starts to deteriorate, affecting how clearly an individual can see images. At this stage, the disease does not affect vision. As the condition worsens, the patient will experience blurry vision. Without medical intervention, the disease usually leads to complete vision loss.
The two main types of this condition include wet and dry macular degeneration. People at a higher risk of getting AMD can develop both types of this disease. Other less common forms of AMD include myopic macular degeneration and Stargardt disease.
Also known as geographic atrophy, dry AMD destroys the light-sensitive cells in the macula. This condition is severe since it affects the central vision, leading to blindness. This condition is not treatable in its advanced stages.
This is a common type of macular degeneration that makes up 80 percent of legal blindness. This condition is a result of blood or other fluid leakages into the macula, affecting vision. While there is no cure for this type of eye disease yet, the good news is that eye doctors can slow down its progression if caught early.
Specialists continue to study AMD, as the specific causes of this eye disease are not conclusively known. However, scientific evidence shows that environment and genes play a role in the development of this eye disease.
Common indications of AMD include:
Trouble making out faces
Difficulty adjusting to lights
Distortion of straight lines
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Schedule routine eye exams at least twice a year. Your eye doctor can identify early signs of AMD and start treatments to reduce its progression. You can lower your risk for AMD by eating more leafy vegetables and fish, controlling your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking.
Eye doctors treat AMD based on the type and stage. There is no cure for AMD yet, but eye doctors can slow down its progression. Your eye doctor will keep monitoring the health of your eyes through regular eye exams to make sure the condition is under control.
To learn more about the types and symptoms of macular degeneration, contact Plano Eye Associates at our office in Plano, Texas. You can call (972) 985-1412 to book an appointment today.