Are you aware that macular degeneration affects approximately 10% of all people between the ages 66 and 74?
What is this illness affecting so many people? Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that typically affects people over the age of 50. The disease varies in severity, but often leads to blurred vision, blind spots or complete blindness if left untreated. The damage caused to the eye can make recognizing faces, reading or other visual tasks difficult, but peripheral vision usually remains functional, allowing for some daily activities to continue. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, the central area of the retina that provides the detailed central vision of the eye, breaks down.
There are two forms of macular degeneration; one is referred to as wet macular degeneration and the other is referred to as dry macular degeneration.
Dry macular degeneration is the less severe version of the disease. It occurs when the retina pigment separates from the retina, causing vision impairment, blurriness and vision loss due to the loss of photoreceptors. This affects the vision in the central part of the eye. Currently there is no medical or surgical treatment available to cure this disease. Fortunately, there has been great advancement in the use of vitamins and supplements over the last ten years to treat this disease, effectively slowing and in some cases improving the condition. These vitamins and supplements taken in high doses often contain antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Additionally, a nutritionist can assist in changing one’s diet to help improve the condition as well.
Wet macular degeneration is more severe and can lead to irreversible damage to the photoreceptors. It typically progresses very quickly, with vision loss occurring if untreated. Wet macular degeneration is caused due to abnormal blood vessel growth in the choriocapillaris. This leads to blood and protein leakage below the macula, which causes immediate scarring. Until recently, there were no treatments for this disease, however new drugs and advances in medicine have led to some potential treatments which can slow and sometimes reverse the damage. These treatments involve direct injections into the eye. While this is a step forward for patients, there is still no cure.
While the wet version of the disease is more severe, the dry form of the disease accounts for approximately 90 per cent of all cases.
Macular degeneration does not often lead to complete blindness. In fact, only a small number of people with severe cases of macular degeneration are totally blind. The macula only comprises about 2.1 per cent of the retina’s field of vision, leaving 97.9 per cent of vision unaffected. However, its location in the middle of the eye is the reason it affects people so severely, since lacking central vision prevents people from reading, driving, recognizing faces, writing, using computers and many other tasks requiring detailed recognition.
Have you ever experienced vision loss of any kind? Share your story…