Age-related macular degeneration can cause serious vision loss, but there are ways to prevent or reduce its effects.
From presbyopia to cataracts to glaucoma, a lot can happen to our eyes as we age. One way of getting older can affect your eyes is through macular degeneration, a condition that causes a loss in the center of your field of vision.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 65. This may seem scary, but the effects of this age-related condition are treatable, and there are several ways you can prevent or delay its onset.
What is Macular Degeneration?
The macula is an oval-shaped area in the center of the retina that helps your eyes see fine details. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration is when leaking blood vessels develop under the retina, while dry macular degeneration is when the center of the retina physically deteriorates.
Like many progressive eye conditions, age-related macular degeneration often has no symptoms in the beginning. For early detection, it’s important to get regular eye exams, especially as you age. When symptoms do eventually manifest, the most common is blurred vision. Other symptoms include difficulty reading or driving, objects appearing distorted or abnormally colored, the need for more light and magnification, straight lines appearing wavy, and the loss of the center of your field of vision.
There are several factors that put people at a higher risk for macular degeneration. A family history may increase the risk, and some women and Caucasian people have demonstrated a higher likelihood of developing the condition than men and African-Americans, respectively. Smoking, head injuries, high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and excessive sun exposure also contribute to an increased risk.
On the other hand, there are some factors that may actually lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, including a diet high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These can be found in many fruits and vegetables, especially kale, spinach, and collard greens.
The most common treatments for age-related macular degeneration are rehabilitation-based. They often involve close monitoring of your vision and a change in diet, which may mean the addition of specific supplements. Antioxidants — specifically lutein and zeaxanthin — have been shown to help slow deterioration, especially for dry macular degeneration. In the case of wet macular degeneration, laser surgery or a new treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT) may be more effective. However, while these methods are helpful in slowing progression, they may not be able to restore any lost vision.
If you or a loved one are experiencing the effects of age-related macular degeneration, don’t hesitate to visit your eye doctor. The sooner you seek treatment, the better. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, be sure to get regular eye exams and inquire about age-related macular degeneration. The experts at Swagel Wootton Eye Institute are experienced in diagnosing and treating macular degeneration and other similar conditions and will work with you individually to find the right solution. Schedule an appointment with us today.