As you get older, you become at risk of developing a variety of age-related eye diseases. One of the more serious vision conditions impacting seniors is macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among Americans over the age of 65. Approximately 1.75 million people across the country suffer from age-related macular degeneration, and that figure is expected to exceed 3 million by 2020.
Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macula, the part of the retina that helps you achieve sharp, central vision, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing part of your eye located on the inside back wall of your eyeball. As the condition becomes worse, you will experience a gradual loss of vision.
- Dry macular degeneration
- Wet macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration is the most common form of the disease. It occurs when yellow spots develop in and around the macula. As these spots increase in size and become more abundant, they may result in a dimming or distortion of vision that is most pr0minent when reading. Over a period of several years, the condition will gradually become more severe. In advanced stages, you may begin to experience blind spots in the center of your vision which impact your ability to drive or recognize faces.
Wet macular degeneration is the more serious form of the condition and occurs in about 10% of patients. It generally progresses from dry macular degeneration. In wet macular degeneration, blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina, creating blind spots and a loss of central vision. Eventually, these blood vessels may scar, causing permanent central vision loss.
Once they develop, symptoms of macular degeneration may include:
- Fuzzy or distorted vision
- Shadowy areas in your central vision
- Difficulty adapting to low light levels
- A need for very bright light when reading
- Decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
- Blurriness of printed words
- Difficulty recognizing faces
If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an eye examination with one of our ophthalmologists immediately.
- 500 mg vitamin C
- 400 IU vitamin E
- 15 mg beta carotene
- 80 mg zinc oxide
- 2 mg copper
Once the condition has progressed to wet macular degeneration, drugs can be used to stem the growth of abnormal blood vessels which lead to rapid vision deterioration. These include: