Living longer today brings up many different emotions. The idea of traveling the world and playing with grandchildren can put a smile on your face. The costs of retirement can turn that same smile upside down. We all want to maintain optimal health well into our twilight years, but for many people, vision problems arise with age. One common condition is known as macular degeneration.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Put simply, it’s a breakdown of an eye’s macula. The macula is actually part of the retina towards the back of the eye. The macula is primarily responsible for much of your central vision which allows you to see fine details like small print, fine lines, etc. Over time, when the macula wears down, vision problems start occurring.
There are actually two forms of macular degeneration – wet and dry. The dry form is characterized by the thinning of macula tissues caused by the formation of tiny fatty proteins called drusen in the retina. The wet form involves the growth of unusual blood vessels in the retina which leads to more noticeable, sharp vision loss. Either form can cause major issues if left untreated.
The following is a partial list of symptoms to watch out for:
- Blank or blurry spots in your central vision
- Hazy vision
- Difficulty in recognizing faces
- Objects’ size appears different to each eye
- Colors start losing their brightness
You should definitely talk to your ophthalmologist or optometrist if you start experiencing any of the above, or other sudden, changes related to your eyesight.
As previously noted, age is the main cause of macular degeneration. However, there are other risk factors that can also contribute to this condition.
- Heredity – Someone with a family history of this condition is more likely to develop it themselves.
- Hypertension / cholesterol – Keeping optimal blood pressure and cholesterol levels help your heart as well as your eyes.
- Smoking – Smokers are more likely to get this ailment versus non-smokers.
While it’s important to note that there’s no actual cure for this condition, there are certain treatments that can be useful in slowing down the wearing of our macula. Vitamins, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, etc., can be especially useful in preventing or slowing the condition for some people. Medication and laser therapy are additional options for those who have the wet form of macular degeneration. Again, it’s important to speak with your eye doctor on the best treatment option for you.
While aging is an inevitable part of life, macular degeneration does not have to be. With regular eye checkups from Northside Eyecare, proper vitamin supplementation, and an overall healthy lifestyle, your eyes can stay optimally healthy for years to come. It can mean the difference in clearly seeing the sunrise, not just the sunset, of your twilight years.