What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration often occur due to aging in most patients but sometimes it can happen in young adults as a congenital inherited disease.
It is a slow deterioration of the area located at the very back of your eye that helps you differentiate fine details, causing field loss in your central vision. In patients with macular degeneration, peripheral vision is not affected. Macular degeneration is a chronic disease with no cure.
How common is macular degeneration?
This health condition is extremely common, macular degeneration is the leading-cause of vision loss in many developed countries. It can affect patients at any age and women are more likely to develop it than men.
It usually happens to people 60 years of age and older. It causes up to 50% of all blindness, affects 1 in 7 people over 50 years old. A study predicts that the number of people with macular degeneration will increase by 70% by 2030.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
The signs and symptoms of macular degeneration are easy to notice that is often reported such as:
- Straight lines become distorted or blurry
- Dark or white areas appear in your central vision
- Perception of color changes or decreases
- Need brighter light to work
- Hard to adapt to levels of low light
- Printed words become blurry
- Difficulty recognizing face
During the early stage, there is normally no symptoms, but loss of central vision can start to occur and gradually get worse. At the end stage, patients have significant vision loss.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You need to see a doctor if macular degeneration has too much influence on your life, such as making reading and driving harder, having more difficult to recognize faces, or preventing you from working sufficiently.
Macular degeneration is reported to increase the risk of falls, depression, hip fracture and increase one’s dependence on others.
Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes macular degeneration?
Due to aging, deposition of lipid, often appear small white or yellow, build up under the retina at the back of the eye. These spot can prevent the cells in the retina from getting enough oxygen or nutrients. When this occurs, the light-sensing cells can then become damaged, which can lead the degeneration of the macula – often called dry macular degeneration.
Another type is wet macular degeneration. This type is not as common as dry macular degeneration, but it accounts for about 10% of cases. This occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow behind the macular, leaking blood and fluid, causing scaring on the macula.
Juvenile forms of macular degeneration are all inherited. They are congenital meaning they are passed down genetically and progressive meaning it gets worse over time.
What increases my risk for macular degeneration?
There are many risk factors for macular degeneration:
- Gender: more common in women
- Age: elders are more at risk
- Cigarette smoking: smokers are at 3-4 times more risk
- Family history of macular degeneration: 50- 70% of cases have a genetic link direct family history
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Light eye color
- Long-term exposure to sun-light
- Low levels of antioxidants in your blood
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is macular degeneration diagnosed?
MD can be diagnosed early with eye tests.
How is macular degeneration treated?
Patients with age-related or juvenile forms of macular degeneration can access treatment including:
- Drug therapy to prevent or slow down the progress of the disease and the growth of new blood vessels under the macula
- Surgical and others procedures (i.e. laser) may help some case of Wet MD.
- Gene therapies to replace ‘bad’ genes with ‘good’ genes
- Cells that can be transplanted into the retina to replace the sick ones
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage macular degeneration?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with macular degeneration:
Try to follow a proper diet plan to reduce your risk of MD, consuming such as:
- Eat dark green and naturally yellow vegetables and fruits every day
- Eat more fish in your diet, which has more omega 3 and a handful of nuts per week that limit fat intake
- Quit smoking or avoid cigarette smoke
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
A Journey through the Eye Macular Degeneration Ophthalmologist Retina Specialists, Dr Dianne Sharp Auckland. Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Understanding Macular Degeneration. http://maculardegeneration.org/enroll.html Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Macular Degeneration. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/maculardegeneration.html Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Macular Degeneration. http://www.mdsupport.org/library/juvenile.html Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Lear About Macular Degeneration. https://www.childrenscorner.org/about-macular-degeneration/learn-about-macular-degeneration Accessed 10 Feb, 2017.
Review Date: April 17, 2017 | Last Modified: April 17, 2017