When it comes to eye issues, there are few that are as scary as Macular Degeneration. This serious disease affects up to ten million Americans currently, and may affect more as the “baby boomer” population continues to increase in age. Though we don’t know everything about Macular Degeneration, we are learning more about risk factors. Keep reading for some of the most frequently-asked questions about Macular Degeneration.
What is it?
Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the cells in the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see. The retina’s central portion, called the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.
How can I identify Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration may reveal itself to a patient first as wavy or blurred vision. If the condition continues to worsen, your central vision may be completely affected or blocked by dark splotches.
Macular Degeneration might begin without any signs of vision loss. Regular eye exams can help identify early signs of Macular Degeneration.
What causes Macular Degeneration?
We still don’t know exactly what causes Macular Degeneration, though we are starting to understand certain risk factors.
Often, Macular Degeneration affects aging populations, and once you’re above the age of 55 your chance of developing it is increased. Other risk factors may include genetics, race, and smoking, though there may be others that haven’t been discovered yet.
For example, if you have a family history or family members who have suffered from Macular Degeneration, you may have an increased risk. Smokers of cigarettes may also have a higher likelihood of developing Macular Degeneration, so quitting smoking may lower your risk. Lastly, Caucasians have a higher risk of developing Macular Degeneration over Hispanics or African Americans.
Can I treat Macular Degeneration?
Unfortunately, Macular Degeneration is currently considered an incurable disease. Talking to your doctor may reveal health tips or treatment options to try.