Age related macular degeneration is a disease that is caused by damage to the retina. The macula is responsible for our central vision and color vision. Macular degeneration affects both distance and close vision. It is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 65. The exact causes are not fully understood.

What is Macular Degeneration

The macula is a small area at the center of the retina in the back of the eye which allows us to see fine details.The visual symptoms are loss of central vision and distorted images in our vision. We send patients home with a amsler grid or graph paper. If any of the lines are wavy or distorted there may be a sign of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration causes the loss of vision necessary for driving, reading and recognizing faces. An annual eye exam with our optometrist can detect early signs of this disease. Technology has improved and we can detect this disease sooner.

Although the cause is unknown, it is part of the aging process. Age is the most significant risk factor. Heredity, blue eyes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and smoking have also been identified as risk factors. This accounts for 80% of new cases of legal blindness in the United States. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration doesn’t affect your vision as much as the wet type.

Macular Degeneration Treatments

This disease is best treated when caught early. Research is being done to help reduce the damage to the macula. A recent scientific study shows that antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the effects in some people with the disease. Among people at high risk for late-stage macular degeneration, a dietary supplement of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, along with zinc, lowered the risk of the disease progressing. Ocular injection can also help with this disease. We also monitor this condition with a few different tests.

Light affects the eye by stimulating oxygen and produces highly reactive and damaging compounds called free radicals. Antioxidant ocular vitamins may help slow the progression of macular degeneration. Studies show that some older people have lower levels of zinc in their blood. Because zinc is important for the health of the macula, supplements of zinc in the diet may slow down the disease.

It is very important to remember that vitamin supplements are not a cure for macular degeneration, specific amounts of certain supplements do play a role in helping some people at high risk for advanced stages. We can determine if you are at risk for developing advanced macular degeneration and prescribe supplements if needed. Visit us at Eye to schedule an eye exam with our Optometrist. We are here for all of your eye care needs.

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