Macular Degeneration

What is it?

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among Americans over the age of 65. AMD is degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina which allows sharp, central vision. Because the macula is primarily affected by AMD, central vision loss may occur.

Signs and Symptoms

Age-related macular degeneration usually produces a slow, painless loss of vision. Early signs include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. Eye doctors can detect early signs of macular degeneration before symptoms occur by carefully examining the retina.

Risk Factors

Aging- AMD primarily affects individuals over the age of 65.

Smoking- smoking is a major risk factor and may double the risk of developing macular degeneration.

Obesity and inactivity- obese individuals had more than double the risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration compared with individuals of normal body weight.

Hereditary- studies have shown that certain genes are expressed in most cases of macular degeneration.

High blood pressure- studies have shown a correlation between blood pressure and prevalence of macular degeneration.

White/Caucasian- researchers have theorized that extra pigment found in darker individuals serve as a protective factor against the development of eye disease.

Prevention and Treatment

There is no cure for macular degenerations, however some treatments may delay progression or even improve vision. Early to moderate forms of macular degeneration are monitored at yearly retinal examinations and nutritional intervention is used to delay progression. During early stages, patients can monitor for changes in vision using an Amsler Grid. Severe forms of macular degeneration utilize treatments aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth, which include FDA-approved drugs such as Lucentis, Eylea, and Macugen.

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