The advancement of technology helped doctors and researchers find various diseases and disorders. Although there are still ailments that are yet to be discovered, there are a lot of sicknesses that are known in the public and are currently given treatment to. One of these disorders is macular degeneration. But what is this illness all about? Get all the facts related to macular degeneration by reading through this article.
Macular degeneration is an ailment related to the eye
Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration is a condition in which you experience no vision or blurriness in your retina. It is a deterioration of the macular, a small part of the retina that is responsible for visual acuity. When the macular is affected, you have a hard time doing your daily routine such as the ability to read, watch TV, or even see the smallest details.
Macular degeneration is common to older white people.
A study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health said that most of the victims of this sickness are older people. In fact, the research showed that 6.5% of Americans with the ages of 40 years old and above are those with this ailment.
Also, another study conducted related to macular degeneration found out that 14% of the people who have this sickness are Americans. Meanwhile, 0.9% of the population with the disease are Blacks and non-Hispanics.
There are two types of macular degeneration
Once you get checked for macular degeneration, you can be diagnosed of either wet macular degeneration or dry macular degeneration. Between the two types, dry neovascular is more common than its counterpart.
1. Dry macular degeneration
This is the first stage of the disorder and is usually caused by aging. Another cause might be the thinning of the macular tissues or a pigment in the macular.
You will know that you have dry neovascular when yellow spots appear around the macular. Dry neovascular is not as severe as dry neovascular, but as it progresses, it may result in loss of vision.
2. Wet macular degeneration
Wet neovascular, on the other hand, happens when new blood vessels grow and leak blood. When this happens, it might cause blind spots in your retina. The most common cause of wet neovascular is choroidal neovascularization (CNV). This is when your body develops a new network of blood vessels aimed at giving your retina more nutrients and oxygen.
Unfortunately, CNV can cause scarring that can lead to blindness. There are two types of wet neovascular:
- Classic. This is when your retina has delineated outlines, causing more chances of vision loss.
- Occult. This happens when the growth of the new blood vessel is not pronounced, causing fewer chances of vision loss.
Early signs of vision loss are one of the first symptoms of macular degeneration
The determining factor of most patients with macular degeneration is when they experience loss of vision. Other symptoms include distorted vision or seeing shadowy areas in your central vision.
Meanwhile, there are other people who discover that they have this disease when they go to eye practitioners. Usually, a visit to an eye practitioner may involve an Amsler grid test that checks your central vision. When the doctor finds a distortion in your eyes, he or she might require you to fluorescein angiography. This exam will further examine your blood vessels around your macular.
Macular degeneration causes include aging and oxygen-deprived cells.
There are studies that show macular degeneration can come from aging. Another research by Duke University said that a gene called complementary factor H (CFH) is said to be related to almost all the blindness effects caused by the macular degeneration.
Another research, this time by the Columbia University Medical Center, found that another gene called complement factor B can be a part of the development of macular degeneration. Other studies show that oxygen-deprived cells can also trigger the creation of more red blood vessels.
There are various risks related to macular degeneration
Unfortunately, researchers claim that macular degeneration has several risk factors including the following:
- Family member with macular degeneration
- High blood pressure
- Lighter eye color
- Over-exposure to sunlight
- High levels of dietary fat
- Drug side effects
There is still no outright treatment for macular degeneration.
Although there is no macular degeneration cure, for now, doctors say that there are still a lot of ways for you to prevent having this sickness. If you are diagnosed to have dry macular degeneration, doctors recommend nutritional intervention.
However, if you have wet macular degeneration, there is a possibility that your doctor would recommend drugs such as Macugen, Eylea, Lucentis, and Visudyne. Another good way to keep yourself away from this illness is by keeping a healthy diet.
Some studies prove that for you to have a healthy diet, you must eat coldwater fishes and salmon. These omega-3 fatty acid rich food will avoid the progression of macular degeneration. You can also take supplements like zeaxanthin and lutein.
To detect macular degeneration, you must take an eye exam
As mentioned before, some people are diagnosed with macular degeneration without having symptoms. Instead, doctors were able to find the disease through an eye exam. If you believe that you might have a chance to have this ailment, you can take these tests:
- Visual acuity test
- Optical coherence tomography
- Dilated eye exam
- Amsler grid
- Fluorescein angiogram
During any of these examinations, the doctor will search for drusen. These are the yellow deposits beneath your retina. Although it may be normal for most people, especially those who are aging, a great number of drusen might be an indicator that you have macular degeneration.
These are just some of the basic facts that you should know about macular degeneration. Always remember that you should maintain a healthy body to keep yourself away from this eye ailment. You can also go to an eye practitioner regularly to keep yourself updated about your health.