Macular degeneration is a condition characterized by the loss of vision and other serious symptoms. Often resulting in total vision loss and other complications, there are two types of this illness: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. While dry macular degeneration progresses slowly and is often associated with age, wet degeneration, though less common, is typically more severe in nature, as it usually appears abruptly and progresses at a rapid pace.
The following is an in-depth look at this condition, which includes information on symptoms, causes, treatment options and more.
What is Macular Degeneration, Exactly?
Both wet and dry macular degeneration are marked by the damage or deterioration of the center of the retina, or macula. In cases of wet macular degeneration, damage usually occurs as a result of abnormalities in the blood vessels of the eye, which leak fluid and/or blood into the retina. On the other hand, in patients with dry macular degeneration, retinal deterioration is most often a result of the natural aging process.
It’s important to note that, while both types of this illness can exist without the other, nearly all cases of wet macular degeneration begin as dry degeneration.
Causes of Macular Degeneration
A variety of factors can contribute to the development of macular degeneration. Of these, the following are common:
- Genetics. While macular degeneration isn’t always hereditary, having a close family member with this illness significantly increases an individual’s odds of developing the disease themselves.
- Free radical damage, which is often associated with age as well as certain lifestyle and environmental factors.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Patients with this illness are often deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals, some of which include zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Poor immunity. Weakened immunity can leave the body unable to repair damage to the eyes and other organs, which can lead to the onset of illness.
In both types of macular degeneration, symptoms like the following are usually present:
- Blurred central vision.
- Well-defined blind spots, specifically in the central field of vision.
- Reduced intensity of color; for example, for patients with macular degeneration, bright colors may appear dull or faded.
- The inability to see or read in dark or dimly-lit environments.
- Distorted vision. Straight lines may appear curvy, or it may be difficult to determine the size, depth, etc. of certain objects.
- Problems recognizing faces or discerning facial features.
- In advanced stages of macular degeneration, visual hallucinations of people, objects or shapes can occur.
Treatment and Prevention
There are no known cures for macular degeneration. What’s more, there are no available treatments that have proven effective in reversing the damage associated with this disease. However, macular degeneration doesn’t always result in blindness, and there are plenty of ways to reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life. For example, methods and techniques like the following can be beneficial in patients with this disease:
- Diet and Nutritional Supplementation. Since this illness is often associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, getting the proper nutrition and supplementation is essential. Natural Eye Care’s macular degeneration supplements, for example, provide various vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants that have proven effective in both preventing and treating the progression of this condition.
- Healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to diet, lifestyle choices like smoking and inactivity are common among individuals with this condition. To prevent and reduce the complications associated with macular degeneration, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and making other healthy lifestyle choices can be extremely beneficial.
- Regular checkups. To prevent the progression of damage associated with macular degeneration, regular checkups with an optometrist are essential.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about macular degeneration. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of this disease, or are at an increased risk for its development, see an optometrist immediately.
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