Causes of Age-related Macular Degeneration
At Retina Associates, our team of experienced eye doctors offers effective treatment for a number of retinal conditions that compromise a person’s vision. Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most common retinal conditions. It affects millions of Americans, and the risk of this condition increases as a person ages. In fact, macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in those aged 55 and over.
This chronic condition describes a deterioration of the macula, which is the central part of the retina. As the macula deteriorates, a person’s central vision, as well as the ability to distinguish colors and fine details, will suffer. Here, we go over some of the most common age-related macular degeneration causes affecting our Kansas City, MO patients, as well as the treatment options that can help these patients preserve, or improve, their vision.
There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD develops when the light-sensitive cells in the macula begin to break down, and waste products, known as drusen, begin to buildup. Combined, this results in blurry spots and a loss of definition in a person’s central vision. Wet AMD develops when new blood cells begin to grow beneath the macula. These blood cells form in the wrong place and damage the macula, which causes distorted vision and blind spots. It is not clear what triggers these responses, but the condition is linked to a patient’s age.
Although the exact causes of age-related macular degeneration are unknown, the following factors seem to increase the risk of a patient developing this condition:
- Genetics: Patients with a family history of age-related macular degeneration are more likely to develop the condition themselves, suggesting there is a genetic link that may be inherited from parents.
- Ethnicity: Ethnicity also seems to affect age-related macular degeneration. Statistics show that this condition is far more common among Caucasians and Chinese.
- Smoking: Smoking has been definitively linked with age-related macular degeneration. Those who smoke are four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than those who have never smoked.
- Heavy drinking: It is believed that those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol may also have an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
- Sun exposure: It is believed that prolonged or repeated sun exposure can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Those who spend long hours in the sun should protect the eyes by wearing UV-protectant sunglasses.
Age-related macular degeneration can greatly impair a person’s vision, but with early intervention, vision loss can be prevented. Many patients who undergo treatment for age-related macular degeneration experience an improvement in their vision. Treatment options include oral medication, injections, and, in some cases, laser surgery. Our doctor’s will consider each patient’s unique situation and recommend a treatment plan that is most appropriate for the patient’s specific needs and desires.
With proper treatment, patients with age-related macular degeneration can maintain a clear field of vision, but early intervention is key. If you have experienced any changes in vision, it is important to have your eyes examined as soon as possible. To learn more about the wide range of eye care services available at Retina Associates, including treatment for age-related macular degeneration, contact us at your earliest convenience.