Are you experiencing blurry or wavy vision?
Do you have blind spots?
Have you lost your central vision altogether?
Macular Degeneration is an incurable eye disease, and is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more than glaucoma and cataracts combined.
This age-related disease is almost never totally blinding, but it can cause a significant and permanent reduction in vision. Scientists are currently working on breakthrough treatments to help those suffering with this currently irreversible type of vision loss. But what do we do in the meantime? Here’s what you need to know.
There are no signs or symptoms of early Macular Degeneration. You may not even notice any vision problems during the disease’s intermediate stage. In fact, by the time you start experiencing symptoms of vision interruption or loss, the disease is already far advanced.
Macular Degeneration occurs in two different ways.
Wet Macular Degeneration results in a quick onset of symptoms and loss of vision. It is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. These blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina, causing distorted and wavy vision, blind spots, and severe reduction or loss of central vision. Once a scar is formed, you can experience permanent loss of your central vision.
Dry Macular Degeneration has a much slower progression, and symptoms are not noticed until the disease is in its later stages. With Dry Macular Degeneration, yellow deposits, called drusen, can form. They may not cause problems when they are small. But as they grow, they will impair your vision. You may also experience tissue damage or death.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
The causes of Macular Degeneration can be complex, and they can also be based on environment and heredity. In short, the back layer of your eye records the images you see and sends them through your optic nerve from your eye to your brain. Macular Degeneration occurs when the central portion of the retina becomes deteriorated.
The retina’s central section, the macula, controls several eye functions.
· Central vision and focus
· Driving a car
· Recognizing faces, objects, and colors
· Seeing fine details in objects
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
Although there is no sure way to tell if you will get Macular Degeneration or not, there are several risk factors involved in being susceptible to this disease. If you have any of these risk factors, Dr. Fruchtman suggests at least an annual eye exam so that we can catch this disease as early as possible. Risk factors are based on the four categories of age, genetics, race, and smoking.
Age – People who are 55 and older have a higher risk of developing Macular Degeneration (especially those over 60).
Genetics – Those with a family history of Macular Degeneration are at a higher risk.
Race – Caucasians are more likely to develop Macular Degeneration than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
Smoking – Being a smoker doubles your risk of contracting Macular Degeneration.
Other risk factors include the following:
· High blood pressure
· High cholesterol
· Light skinned
· Light-colored eyes
Although there is no treatment or cure for Macular Degeneration, we can catch it early with regular eye exams. And you can incorporate certain lifestyle changes now that can reduce the possibility of contracting this disease.
· Healthy diet
· Quit smoking
· Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light
It’s important to schedule a regular visit with your eye doctor to catch this disease early.
Let’s catch Macular Degeneration early so we can help you maintain your best possible vision.
Call Dr. Fruchtman TODAY!