Macular degeneration of the macula area of the retina is an age related condition typically affecting people over the age of 65. Progressive deterioration of the macula can lead to loss of central vision. However, it does not lead to complete blindness because the peripheral regions of the retina remain unaffected. Tends of have a higher incidence of occurrence when the following risk factors are present:
1. Patients over the age of 65
2. Heredity: there is a genetic factor that predisposes or increases the chance of a patient developing this condition.
3. Cardiovascular history: Patients with a history of heart disease or stroke have a higher incidence.
4. Smoking: Macular degeneration tends to occur more frequently in people who smoke.
There are two types of macular degenerations; The Dry Form: This is the most common type of macular degeneration. In the dry form of macular degeneration, the macular becomes thin and ceases to function properly.
The Wet Form: This is the more damaging form of macular degeneration. The wet type is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina. These abnormal blood vessels can hemorrhage or leak resulting in scar tissue if left untreated. If left untreated, it usually progresses with further loss of vision.
The following symptoms are indicative of macular degeneration:
1. Loss of the ability to see objects clearly
2. Vision may be distorted. Straight lines appear wavy. Objects may appear in the wrong shape or size.
3. A loss in the ability to see colors clearly and correctly
4. A dark, empty area in the center of vision.
In general, at the present time there is no cure . Depending on the form of macular degeneration, there are treatments to help control the progression of this condition. In the dry form of this condition, there is no treatment that is known to stop its progression. Once the retinal tissues are damaged by this form of macular degeneration, there is little t hat can be done to stop its progression. The wet form of macular can be controlled through laser treatments provided that they are performed at an early stage of this condition.
While there is no cure, studies have shown that lifestyle changes may be helpful in reducing the risk of developing this condition or slowing down its progression. These include:
-Eating a well balanced diet that is rich in leafy green vegetable
-The use of a daily vitamin supplement that is rich in zinc
-Wearing sunglasses outdoors with ultraviolet absorbing lenses
-Maintaining a program of regular, cardiovascular exercise
-Adhering to a low fat diet
-Reducing serum blood cholesterol levels