Macular degeneration (MD) is a common eye disorder that primarily affects older people. It can affect one or both eyes and slowly worsens over time.
When you first get it, you may sense strange visual distortions, like your eyesight is bending. You may also notice that you require more and more light to function while colors seem less vibrant.
The primary effect of macular degeneration, however, is that your central vision deteriorates. Eventually, without treatment, MD can lead to complete vision loss.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration affects the central portion of your retina, known as the macula. Its exact cause is unknown, but it does have a few known risk factors.
The most common is age. That’s why macular degeneration is also called age-related macular degeneration or ARMD.
Obesity, smoking, diet, genetics, and environmental factors are also risk factors. It is most common in people over the age of sixty and mainly occurs in Caucasians.
There are two different forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration is more common and less severe, but it can still lead to vision loss.
If you have dry macular degeneration, your macula gets thinner and loses its ability to focus. Wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels leak underneath your retina.
The leaking fluid can distort and block your vision. Dry MD can progress into wet MD, which has a much higher chance of causing vision loss.
How Do You Treat Macular Degeneration?
There is no way to cure macular degeneration. But, you can slow its progression if you and your eye doctor catch it early enough.
Regular eye appointments are the best way to prevent vision loss from MD and other eye conditions. Two treatments can help you cope with the changes in your vision if you lose some sight.
Macular degeneration affects your central vision but doesn’t affect your peripheral vision. With the help of a professional, you can train yourself to use your peripherals more effectively and adapt to a new way of seeing.
No surgery can undo the effects of macular degeneration. But, some people may be eligible to receive a particular implant that could help.
This surgical option is only used if you have MD in both eyes. And the lens only gets implanted in one of your eyes.
The implant is a telescopic lens, and it gets implanted to improve distance and close-up vision. It has an extremely narrow field of view, so it does not fully restore your eyesight.
But your brain can switch between your eyes and use the telescope and your periphery to give you some sight. Altogether you can have a functional degree of eyesight to help you navigate the world.
Can You Prevent Macular Degeneration?
Preventing MD is especially important because it has no cure once you have it. The same strategies used to avoid it can also help slow its progression if you get it. They are primarily lifestyle changes and include:
- Quit smoking
- Manage other health problems like blood pressure and diabetes
- Exercise regularly
Macular degeneration is a scary eye disease. But you can prevent vision loss with early diagnosis, proper treatment, and a healthy lifestyle.
If you need to check that your eyes are healthy, schedule an appointment at Stahl Eye Care Experts in Hauppauge, NY!