Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that usually affects individuals over 50 years old. It often develops in one eye before affecting both eyes and causes blurry or reduced central vision due to macula thinning. The macula is part of the retina that helps to produce clear vision in the central line of sight. Vision continues to worsen over time so early detection and management can help protect eyesight.
AMD occurs when the central part of the retina, or macula, wears down. The macula helps ensure an individual enjoys clear vision in the direct line of sight. The tissue in the macula may wear down and thin over time, losing the cells responsible for sight.
It is not clear what causes it, but some factors increase the risk of developing AMD. The condition tends to grow and worsen as the eye ages, but it does not cause total blindness.
Some factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing AMD. They include:
Age: AMD is most common in senior individuals over the age of 60.
Obesity: Being overweight can increase the risk of developing AMD.
Genetics and family history: The condition is often hereditary.
Cardiovascular disease: Those with heart conditions have a higher risk of getting AMD.
Smoking increases the risk of developing macular degeneration.
Most people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease. The first sign that most people notice is a sudden or gradual change in vision. It is hard to diagnose AMD before it worsens or affects both eyes.
Early warning signs include less clear vision, blurry or dark central vision, and worsening color perception. Most people have difficulty driving or reading the fine print as the condition develops. If you notice any warning signs, you must visit an eye specialist as soon as possible.
You can do things to prevent or reduce the risk of AMD. Regular eye exams will help detect early warning signs, which helps in effective management. Managing existing health conditions can help prevent AMD.
Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking. Increasing your intake of fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce your risk of developing eye disease.
There is no cure for AMD, but there are ways to slow the progression of the disease. If diagnosed early, treatment can help reverse or slow down the symptoms. Making lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet and taking vitamin supplements can help protect your vision.
Low vision rehabilitation can help patients adapt to the changing vision. Patients with advanced AMD can benefit from surgery. Implanting a telescopic lens in the eye can help improve both close-up and distant vision.
Scheduling routine eye exams will help ensure that you protect your eye health. Ask your eye doctor about the best exam schedule depending on your age, health condition, and risk factors.
For more on the early warning signs of macular degeneration, visit West Texas Eyecare at our Pecos, Texas office. Call (432) 445-3662 to schedule an appointment today.