An individual’s eyes are amongst their most important systemic features. Without these small but vital organs, subjects could not perform countless functions often taken for granted or view the world’s many beautiful sights.
Unfortunately, many ailments can impact one’s eyes. One serious, potentially sight-inhibiting malady is called macular degeneration. What follows is an overview of this relatively common ailment impacting roughly 200,000 Americans per year.
The disease, which is also referred to as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, impacts an ocular component known as the retina.
This part helps people process light and see pictures, objects, and other sights. However, as individuals age, retinal cells deteriorate and ultimately die. When said processes progress, the symptoms of macular degeneration often set in.
Types Of AMD
The condition is differentiated into two categories, wet and dry.
The less common wet variety happens when new blood vessels form around the retina and eventually leak. Excessive concentrations of blood and other fluids cause swift and significant deterioration of retinal cells and, if not promptly treated, could result in permanent vision loss.
The dry category is far more common and occurs in anywhere from 85 yo 90 percent of all diagnosed cases. During this more gradually-developing form of the illness, retinal cells simply age, incur damage, and ultimately die off.
Researchers have been unable to identify a specific cause. That said, these same scientific professionals maintain that the distortion is likely precipitated or exacerbated by the following risk factors:
Individuals who currently smoke or once did stand at a four times greater risk than subjects not partaking in said vice.
Potentially dangerous underlying health factors such as being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, and elevated blood concentrations of cholesterol dramatically increases one’s chances.
Scientists have concluded that Caucasians are more likely to contract AMD than persons of other races or cultures.
One’s risk heightens once the pass age 60.
Certain members of the medical community opine that chronic or significant exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet, or UV, rays can elevate a person’s chances of developing the malady.
Certain studies have shown that those consuming large quantities of saturated fats greatly increase their candidacy.
Scientists estimate that approximately 10 to 15 percent of those ultimately diagnosed have an immediate family member who also had or has the illness.
In AMD’s earliest stages, afflicted subjects might not notice any physical manifestations. In many cases, symptoms do not appear until the disease has progressed or has impacted both eyes.
When symptoms do occur, said events may include sight blurriness, the inability to read fine or small print, the sudden appearance of dark spots impacting one’s central vision, and diminished color perception.
Typically, said manifestations will worsen as the ailment advances. If left unchecked, possibly significant, permanent visual impairment might occur. In the worst cases, untreated cases could progress to full blindness.
Typically, a firm diagnosis will require a comprehensive eye examination.
Physicians will first assess the back of the eyes. Usually, persons with AMD develop yellowish deposits adjacent to the retina called drusen.
Should said effort prove inconclusive, the examining healthcare provider might request their patient view an object known as an Amsler grid. This item is a chart filled with divided lines. Those with AMD often view these lines as blurry or distorted.
If further testing is indicated, physicians might employ diagnostic imaging tools such as angiography or tomography.
Potential Treatment Options
Unfortunately, there is no established treatment for AMD.
That said, afflicted subjects can take certain steps to slow the disorder’s progression. Such measures include:
One might be able to ebb the flow of AMD by engaging in lifestyle behaviors like quitting smoking, ingesting vitamin supplements, shading their eyes from direct sunlight, and consuming a healthy diet.
Eye specialists might be able to help stricken subjects improve their central vision. This attribute is vital to one’s capacity to perform important tasks such as driving and reading.
Certain patients have benefitted from the insertion of telescopic lenses. These devices are believed to magnify one’s visual skills.