Cause of Macular Degeneration: Why You Can’t See Clearly Now

macdegenerationvisionMacular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that affects many adults over age 50. The exact cause of macular degeneration is unknown, but it occurs when the center of the retina, or macula, breaks down causing blurring or a blind spot in your central vision.

Of the two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet, dry macular degeneration, is the most common. Wet macular degeneration is a progressive form of the eye disease accompanied by blood vessel leakage.

The macula is a layer of tissue inside the back wall of your eyeball, and where fine focusing occurs. The age-related degeneration of this tissue causes a blind spot or blurring in the center of vision.

What researches are able to tell is, as the eye ages, the retinal pigment cells start to atrophy. When that happens, the cells are less efficient at removing waste. The normal color of the macula becomes mottled in appearance and affects normal vision.

Why the retinal cells begin to atrophy remains unknown, but there are some risk factors that seem to determine macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration doesn’t cause blindness, but it can lead to severe vision loss. Also, the increasing inability to see clearly puts a huge damper on daily activities.

Many people with this eye condition gradually find themselves needing brighter light to read by, notice a blurred spot in the middle of their vision or have more and more of a difficult time adjusting to a dim light change in a restaurant.

There are contributing factors that cause development of the disease. The condition develops as the eye ages, but heredity, light eye color, cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sex, race, low nutrients, sun exposure and drug side effects are main risk factors to develop this eye condition.

  • RACE- More common in whites than other groups
  • GENDER- Women more than men are more likely to develop
  • SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE-Some experts feel long-term exposure to ultraviolet light increase risk
  • SMOKING- Cigarette smoking is proven to double the risk
  • OBESITY- Increases the chance of disease progression
  • LOW NUTRIENTS- Antioxidant vitamins, such as A,C and E and minerals like zinc may be responsible for aging effects
  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE- A Netherlands study shows how cardiovascular diseases contribute
  • HEREDITY- Tends to run in families and may, by some research be linked to a gene deficiency
  • DRUG SIDE EFFECTS- check with your doctor to see what prescription drugs may induce macular degeneration

Some of these risk factors are clearly preventable, as in smoking or obesity. Ask your doctor for help managing any health concerns.

No doctor or researcher can say for sure why some people develop this eye condition or why others, even with high risk factors, don’t. What’s clear is the cause of macular degeneration is definitely age related. Everyone over the age of 60 should have an eye exam for the condition every two years.

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