Macular degeneration is a disease that causes the deterioration of the retina in your eye. The retina is the internal rear part of the eye that records the images that pass through the eye. The retina then transmits these images to the brain through the optic nerve. The macula is responsible for a wide variety of tasks, including our ability to focus our central vision, recognize faces, drive a car, read, and see fine details in everyday life. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition.
If you think of your eye as the setup of a camera, the macula is like the central portion of the film. This is where all of the detail is placed when we focus our attention on an area.
Unfortunately, as the macula deteriorates, our ability to interpret what we are looking at also gets worse. In the early stages of macular degeneration, many patients will not recognize that there is an issue. However, as macular degeneration progresses, a person’s vision first becomes blurry or wavy. If macular degeneration progresses further, it can result in a person’s entire central vision to be lost. At this point, individuals are considered legally blind. However, although they are legally blind, they actually retain their peripheral vision, but it is not as clear as central vision.
The actual known causes of macular degeneration are still not completely known. One issue with the lack of knowledge is that macular degeneration continues to be underfunded when research is concerned. The limited knowledge that scientists have, at this point suggests that there is a complex relationship between genetic and environmental factors. These both play a role in an individual’s susceptibility to the disease. However, researchers also know that age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt disease (genetically caused macular degeneration that appears in young people) are not the same. Stargardt disease has a specific genetic component that causes macular degeneration to occur.
While a known cause is not completely understood, there are several different factors that appear to play a significant role in your potential to develop the condition.
The first risk factor is age. The disease appears most prevalently in people who are 55 years of age or older. In addition, your genetics also have some role to play. If another of your family members suffered from macular degeneration, you also have an increased chance. Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than Hispanic or African-American individuals. Smoking also has a drastic effect on the possibility of developing macular degeneration and actually doubles your chances of getting the disease.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for macular degeneration. However, there are a number of things that you can do to help reduce the chances that you get macular degeneration in the first place. There may also be things that you can do once you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration to help slow or stop its progression.
Diet, exercise, protecting your eyes from the effects of ultraviolet radiation, and quitting smoking can all help to reduce your chances. However, if you think that you have macular degeneration, it is important to work with Okaloosa Eye Care to ensure that you stay abreast of any changes in research and that we can monitor the progression closely.
Saving and protecting your vision can be critical to help you protect your quality of life. If you would like to know more about macular degeneration and how it might affect you, contact Okaloosa Eye Care in Crestview, FL today and schedule an appointment (850) 608-0003. Our professional and experienced staff can help you get the answers you need.