According to the American Macular Degeneration Association, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans. This makes it even more common than cataracts and glaucoma combined. All of these conditions can lead to blindness, but not all of their progression can be reversed. Macular degeneration causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Once it’s gone, there’s no getting that vision back. This is a painless disorder that can affect either eye. There are several types of macular degeneration. If you know what causes it, you have a greater chance at avoiding the disease altogether or lessening its effects. Find out what macular is and how you can protect your vision now and in the future.
The retina of the eye is one of the most important areas for vision. The retina’s central area is tasked with focusing central vision in the eye. This area is called the "macula" and controls your ability to read, drive, recognize faces, colors, and to see the environment around us. We can see fine detail because of the retina. This is a light-sensitive membrane that is attached to the inner surface of the eye. Light enters the eye through several different tissues, eventually hitting the retina. That retina receives images and transmits the information along the optic nerve to the brain. Then, the brain processes that information and tells us the images we are seeing.
The macula is the small area in the middle of the retina with the greatest amount of light-sensitive cells and is used for fine-detailed central vision. Macular degeneration causes loss in the center of your field of vision. Over time, that vision loss will grow larger and larger until complete blindness takes over. The sad fact about macular degeneration is that there is no cure. There are ways to prevent it and ways to slow down the progression of macular, but there is not much that can be done if you already have late-stage macular.
There are actually two forms of macular degeneration. One is “Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)” and regular macular. AMD is referred to as ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. This is not a description of how the eye feels, but of whether leaking blood vessels are involved. Dry AMD accounts for 90% of age-related cases, and 10% of cases are Wet AMD. Dry AMD can eventually become Wet AMD.
The American Macular Degeneration Association reports that macular is the leading cause of vision loss. It affects more than 10 million Americans alone and causes blindness over time. In comparison, only about 3 million people have glaucoma. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that 2.1 million Americans over 50 have late AMD. About 9.1 million Americans have early AMD (or AMD that is coming on earlier in life). Women are more prone to have macular than men are. However, after age 80, at least 1 in 10 Americans have AMD.
There are a few symptoms of macular that you can notice over time. Symptoms occur in the central visual part of your eye. Some patients experience blurriness, while others will notice dark areas or distorted vision. However, this condition is a painless disorder, so don’t wait until you have the pain to see an eye doctor, as that pain will never come. Macular degeneration can affect either eye or both eyes. You will notice gradual vision loss in the center of your vision or you will notice that your detailed vision is weaker. If a detail is what you notice, it could be macular, but it could also be a simple refractive error. The only way to know for sure is to see the eye doctor.
In the early stage of the disease, most people don’t experience vision loss. However, an eye doctor can detect macular by the presence of yellow deposits beneath the retina. This is considered “Early AMD”. At the intermediate stage, there may be some vision loss, but you may not notice any other symptoms. A comprehensive eye exam can tell you more. With Late AMD, vision loss is very apparent and irreversible.
As we mentioned, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of the disease and its progression. Some suggestions are the following:
Make changes to your diet and eat healthily. Take vitamins to give your eyes all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Exercise regularly, as diet and exercise go hand-in-hand for staying healthy.
Avoid habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
Wear protective eyewear to block out ultraviolet light from the sun and synthetic sources.
Wear computer glasses if you are frequently using tablets, phones, computers, or are around LED or fluorescent lighting. These light sources can lead to macular degeneration.
See the eye doctor! We can detect macular early and help stop the progression, which could literally save your vision for many years to come.
If you have noticed vision changes recently or gradually over time, that’s a sign that there is something going on with your eyes. It could be a simple refractive error, or it could be something more serious. Don’t wait to see your eye doctor! We can prevent many diseases or halt their progression through frequent eye exams and treatments. An eye doctor can provide that help. To see how your vision is doing, call Optical Masters today at (720) 780-8881!