What Causes Macular Degeneration?

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A healthy retina is an essential part of clear and crisp vision. The retina detects light and sends the information to your brain to create an image. 

However, since the retina is so delicate and essential for vision, any issues that arise in or around the retina can significantly impact your quality of vision. Macular degeneration is one of the most common retinal problems people face. 

Keep reading to learn more about what causes macular degeneration!

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration occurs when cells in the retina begin to deteriorate. More specifically, these cells are in the macula, which is a part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision.

When your central vision is affected, you will likely notice difficulty making out the details on most objects. You may also struggle to make out people’s faces, street signs, or read a recipe book easily. 

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

Like most eye problems, age is a big part of what causes macular degeneration. That’s why it is commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration or AMD. 

However, age is not the only thing that can trigger this disease. Genetics can also play a big part in developing macular degeneration. 

Other classic risks to your health include smoking, poor diet, and high blood pressure. All of them increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. 

The most common form of AMD, dry AMD, is characterized by the breakdown of cells in the macula. A small amount of fat and protein called drusen begins to collect underneath your retina, growing larger over time. 

Eventually, the disease progresses, and your eyesight worsens. When left untreated, dry macular degeneration can advance to become wet AMD. 

Wet AMD is less common than dry AMD but can cause more severe symptoms and vision loss. In wet AMD, new abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina, which are weak and prone to leaking. 

When these blood vessels swell and leak, vision is further damaged. Once macular degeneration reaches the wet stage of the condition, treatment is required to prevent permanent vision loss. 

What Are the Signs of Macular Degeneration?

In the early stages of AMD, you might notice some slightly blurry vision and have trouble recognizing faces. Eventually, you may need more light to do everyday activities. 

The most significant symptom of macular degeneration is a distinct blurry spot forming in the middle of your vision. Typically, AMD affects both eyes simultaneously, but not always. 

If the AMD evolves into its wet form, vision loss will happen much faster. You may also notice straight lines appearing wavy as wet AMD starts. 

It is essential to schedule an eye appointment as soon as possible if you notice these symptoms or any other changes to your vision.    

Can My Vision Be Saved from Macular Degeneration?

As of now, there’s no way to cure macular degeneration. However, your eye doctor can often help treat the condition to prevent further vision loss. 

Certain medications can stop these abnormal blood vessels from forming. Your eye doctor may also use laser therapy to destroy the abnormal blood vessels. 

In some cases, your eye doctor may recommend taking vitamin supplements to counteract or prevent dry AMD. The best way to avoid vision loss from macular degeneration is to visit your eye doctor regularly. 

Routine eye exams are necessary for maintaining good vision and staying informed about your eye health. If you are at risk for macular degeneration, you and your eye doctor can come up with a plan to reduce your risk. 

Do you want to learn more about macular degeneration? Schedule an appointment at Stahl Eyecare Associates in Garden City, NY, today!

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