Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in adults over the age of 60, affecting nearly 20 million Americans. The risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) increases as you age.
While the origins of AMD are unknown, there are many genetic and environmental factors, combined with the body's malfunctioning mechanisms that have been found to contribute to the deterioration of the macula. Here at Optic Gallery, our optometrists screen for signs of Macular Degeneration during your Comprehensive Eye Exam to ensure early detection and preservation of your sight.
What are the different types of macular degeneration?
Dry macular degeneration
Dry macular desegregation is a broad term that covers all forms of AMD that are not wet AMD and affects about 80% of people with AMD. With dry AMD, waste material is generated by intense metabolic activity of photoreceptors in the retina and it accumulates behind the macula and forms deposits known as drusen. As you age, having some, smaller drusen is considered normal, but in a patient with AMD, the body cannot adequately remove this material and over time the drusen increases in number and size.
Wet macular degeneration
The wet form of age-related macular degeneration happens in about 10-15% of patients with AMD. It is characterized as "wet" due to the development of leaky blood vessels that have grown to compensate for the functional problems created by dry AMD. The excessive growth of these blood vessels is neovascularization.
What are the risk factors for macular degeneration?
The largest risk factor for macular degeneration is age. The disease is most likely to become apparent in people who are 55 and older, although it is possible to develop macular degeneration at an earlier age.
Genetics - If you have a family history of age-related macular degeneration, you are at higher risk of developing the disease.
Diet - If you have a poor diet high in saturated fats and low in antioxidants, you are at an increased risk of developing or accelerating the progression of AMD.
Smoking - If you smoke, you are twice as likely to develop AMD. If you live in an environment polluted with smoke, even if you don't smoke, you are also at increased risk.
Race - If you are Caucasian, you are more likely to develop AMD.
In addition to vision loss, AMD can affect your mobility, mental health, and your ability to perform normal activities. Early detection and treatment to slow the progression of the disease is imperative to maintaining your sight and independence for years to come.
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