Understanding Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is the primary cause of vision loss, with over 10 million Americans suffering from the condition.
The name of the disease comes from a piece of the eye’s anatomy – known as the macula – which is the central part of the retina. It is responsible for our central vision, giving us the ability to focus. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to recognize one another’s faces, read, or drive.
However, like most parts of the body, it degenerates with age. This type of macular degeneration is called Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and it is the most common type of macular degeneration. The macula is actually the most sensitive part of the retina, meaning it’s particularly susceptible to breaking down. Nevertheless, it’s also one of the most important parts of the eye, being responsible for turning the images we see into electrical signals that our brains translate into vision.
Beyond the aging process, there is also a type of macular degeneration – known as Stargardt disease that is hereditary. Unlike AMD, it affects individuals at a young age.
Regardless of the type of macular degeneration one is dealing with, there is no known cure. As with other age-related and degenerative eye conditions, such as glaucoma, you can’t undo the damage that has been done or simply replace it with a biomechanical device. You also might not realize the problem until it’s already well along, causing irreparable damage to your eye.
That’s why the most important thing to keep in mind for these conditions is early detection. Degeneration cannot be undone, but it can be slowed.
What Can Be Done to Lessen Your Chances of AMD?
As with many degenerative health issues, the best thing you can do to avoid the disease is to live a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and keeping a healthy diet are always important, along with avoiding dangerous habits like smoking.
In fact, smoking doubles your risk of AMD.
You should also be careful to shield your eyes from excessive amounts of UV light, which is believed to contribute to AMD. If you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, make sure you’re wearing sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV rays.
In addition, if you have a family history of AMD, there are vitamins that you can take to help, including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as Zinc and Copper.
You can also purchase vitamins that are uniquely designed to address AMD, many of which we have available at our offices.
In addition, if you are diagnosed with AMD, there are medical injections that can help. These include Avastin and Lucentis, which are anti-VEGFs designed to control blood vessel growth and swelling in the eyes.
Worried About AMD? Visit Our Offices to Get the Help You Need
Whether you have a family history of AMD and are concerned about a diagnosis or you have already been diagnosed, we can help.
Beyond the examinations and potential injections, we can also supply you with vitamins to promote your eye health and prescription sunglasses to keep you safe in the sun.
If you’d like to set up an appointment, get in touch with us today or simply stop by our Traverse City eye care center.