It is very clear that, as the years go by, there is the sense that our vision is not the same as in earlier days. But sometimes the process is very aggressive, with a significant loss of eyesight. Macular degeneration is a common eye disorder in people over 65. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. There is a central portion of the retina, known as the macula, which is responsible for clear vision in the direct line of sight. In this condition, blurred or reduced central vision occurs due to thinning of the macula. Worsening of vision over time may affect the ability to do things such as drive, read and recognize faces. Early detection and self-care measures may delay vision loss due to macular degeneration. Two main types of age-related macular degeneration are known. In the "dry" form, yellow deposits called drusen appear in the macula. As they grow in size and increase in number, dimming and distortion of vision occurs, that people find most noticeable when reading. In advanced stages, there is also thinning of the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula, leading to atrophy, or tissue death. In this form of macular degeneration, patients may have blind spots in the center of their vision, and in advanced stages, they lose central vision. The second type of macular degeneration is known as the "wet" form. This is characterized by abnormal growth of blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula, a process known as choroidal neovascularization. These blood vessels can leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing distortion of vision that make straight lines look wavy, as well as blind spots and loss of central vision. Most patients with macular degeneration have the dry form, however the dry form can lead to the wet form. Although only about 10% of people with macular degeneration develop the wet form, they make up the majority of those who experience serious vision loss from the disease. The condition is more common in older adults. It may be hereditary. Other risk factors are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and being light skinned, female, and having a light eye color. In the early stages, macular degeneration may not have any symptoms, and may be unrecognized until it progresses and affects both eyes. The first sign is usually blurred vision with a dim, blurry spot in the middle of the vision. Diminished or changed color perception may also occur. Age-related macular degeneration can be detected in a routine eye exam. Other tests may then be ordered to evaluate the extent of involvement of the retina. There is currently no cure for macular degeneration, but early detection is very important, for there are treatments that prevent severe vision loss or slow the progression of the disease considerably. People rarely lose all of their vision from age-related macular degeneration. They may have poor central vision, but are still able to perform many normal daily activities. Besides having routine eye exams, some measures may help reduce the risk of developing this condition, such as abstaining from smoking, managing medical conditions such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly, choosing a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
MICHAEL ROY SMITH, M.D.
Phone: 99183-2093 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org