WHAT CAUSES MACULAR DEGENERATION?

Dr. Jim Martin 02/02/2016

domino-effect.pngAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) most commonly affects people who are 60 years old and older. It is the most common cause of legal blindness in the United States. Smoking, race and genetics are risk factors.According to the American Society of Retina Specialists, 15 million Americans are estimated to have macular degeneration, which causes blurred or blocked vision in the center of the eye. For some, the condition advances slowly. For others, the disease progresses quickly and leads to a rapid loss of vision in one or both eyes.

In addition to blindness, the condition has other, less severe symptoms, including:
    • Visual distortion, which can make straight lines appear to be bending
    • A decreased ability to focus in the center of one or both eyes
    • The inability to see clearly in dim lighting, especially while reading
    • Difficulty adapting to low light levels
    • Difficulty recognizing faces.
  • While age is the most common factor in macular degeneration, other risk factors act in a domino effect, heightening your risk of contracting AMD:
    • Smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who smoke cigarettes or cigars on a regular basis are at an increased risk of developing macular degeneration.
    • Race. Macular degeneration is more common in Caucasians than it is for people of other races.
    • Family history and genetics. People who have relatives who have had macular degeneration are more likely to develop the condition themselves. It is possible to do genetic testing to determine whether or not your family history and genetics put you at risk for developing macular degeneration.
    • Obesity. The Mayo Clinic lists obesity among the most common risk factors for developing macular degeneration. Research shows that people who are obese are both more likely to develop the disease and suffer from more severe symptoms.
    • Cardiovascular disease. People who suffer from conditions that adversely affect their heart and blood vessels are known to be at higher risk for developing macular degeneration.While these are the most common risk factors, along with age, macular degeneration can strike people of any age — and it can strike at any time. Unfortunately, the condition has relatively few early symptoms (in most people), so it is important to have regular vision exams, make note of any changes to your vision and see an eye doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms.
  • For more information about macular degeneration, its causes and risk factors, connect with the experts in eye care at Broome Optical. We can answer your questions, provide eye exams and suggest treatment for macular degeneration along with all of your other eye care needs.

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