Are You At Risk for Macular Degeneration?
The leading cause of blindness among adults aged 65 and over is macular degeneration. This disease affects over 200,000 men and women in America each year, and while it can’t be cured completely, its progression can be stopped if caught early enough.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can happen to anyone, but there are certain factors that significantly increase your risk. In honor of Blindness Awareness Month, we’d like to help you recognize if you are at risk for macular degeneration, and remind you to visit your San Diego retina specialist regularly in order to spot signs of eye disease early. Often, full blindness can be prevented if signs of eye disease are caught early enough.
Call California Retina Associates at 619-425-7755 to schedule your eye appointment today.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that affects the retina and leads to gradual loss of color vision and visual acuity, eventually causing blindness if left untreated. Symptoms can include:
· Difficulty recognizing faces
· Decreased central vision acuity
· Difficulty seeing in dim conditions
· Difficulty reading
Since AMD affects the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for central vision, it will eventually become more difficult to see things in the center of your vision. Peripheral vision may remain intact.
Since symptoms may not appear or may go unnoticed in the early stages of AMD, it is vitally important to see an eye doctor for regular checkups. The progression of macular degeneration can be slowed or stopped, but there is no cure.
Risk Factors For AMD
No one knows exactly what causes macular degeneration, but we do know who is at a higher risk of developing it. You may be at a higher risk for AMD if you:
· Are obese
· Have a family history of AMD
· Have cardiovascular disease
· Are over 65
· Have light-colored eyes
Smokers have a significantly increased risk of developing AMD, and obesity has been shown to increase the chances that mild to moderate macular degeneration will progress into a more severe stage.
There is no surefire way to completely eliminate the risk of AMD, but there are steps you can take to decrease your chances of developing it. These include
· Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains
· Exercise regularly
· Quit smoking
· Have a comprehensive eye exam at least once per year
· See an eye doctor immediately if you notice symptoms developing
Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet. There is currently no FDA approved treatment for dry AMD; however, lifestyle changes have been shown to be effective at slowing and even halting progression of vision loss.
Wet AMD is more severe, and occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. There are a variety of treatments available for wet AMD, including:
· Laser treatment
· Intravitreal injections
Vision loss can progress rapidly with wet AMD, so the sooner treatments are started, the better the prognosis for your vision.
Schedule a Macular Degeneration Consultation
If you think you are at risk for macular degeneration, or if you have begun to experience symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact California Retina Associates at 619-425-7755. We serve patients in Chula Vista, El Centro, La Mesa, and other areas of San Diego.