Macular degeneration (also known as AMD) is an age-related condition affecting the macula, which is the most sensitive part of the retina. The macula is responsible for the part of sight responsible for reading, driving, and recognizing faces. When the macula starts to malfunctions, it loses its ability to create clear visual images. Macular degeneration can be classified as either dry or wet, with the dry form being more common.
Macular degeneration is a slow process of vision loss that usually produces no pain. Early signs of vision loss can include shadowy areas in the central vision, or experiencing unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. In rare cases, sudden central vision loss may occur.
Macular degeneration affects adults age 65 and older and is particularly evident in Caucasian females as the result of heredity. The disease can also result as a side effect of some drugs, and new evidence has shown that smoking also a high-risk factor for macular degeneration. Other risk factors for AMD include high blood pressure, lighter eye color, obesity, overexposure to sunlight, and a high-fat diet.
There is no cure for macular degeneration yet but some treatments may delay the progression or even improve vision. For wet AMD, several FDA-approved drugs have been proven effective at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth and vision loss from the disease. In some cases, laser treatment of the retina may be recommended. There has been a lot of progress made recently in macular degeneration treatment research. Your eye doctor may ask to check your vision regularly to help you monitor your vision loss. If you have already suffered vision loss from macular degeneration, low vision devices including high magnification reading glasses and hand-held telescopes may help you achieve better vision than regular prescription eyewear.
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