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MACULAR DEGENERATION, WHAT IS IT AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?

If you are searching the term Macular Degeneration, you’ve probably been confronted with the disease or you suspect the diagnosis. In this blog post, we will explain everything you need to know about Macular Degeneration
An eye looking through a big hole in the wallpaper

MACULAR DEGENERATION, WHAT IS IT, AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?

If you are searching the term Macular Degeneration, you’ve probably been confronted with the disease or you suspect the diagnosis. In this blog post, we will explain everything you need to know about Macular Degeneration

At this moment, Macular Degeneration is considered incurable. It is the leading cause of sight loss around the world. In 2015, 6.2 million people worldwide suffered from this eye condition.

The disease is also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). This is because it often occurs with people of older ages. Especially with people over the age of sixty. 

What happens when you have Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration affects the small central portion of your retina, called the macula

An illustration demonstrating the difference between a healthy eye and an eye with degenerated macula

The retina is the inside black layer of the eye that records the visuals you see it goes via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. 

The macula is responsible for the focus of the central vision in the eye. This has an impact on the detailing you see in objects, your ability to read books, drive a car, etc. 

Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

There are two types of this disease: wet and dry. Approximately 85% to 90% of the people that suffer from Macular Degeneration have the dry (anthropic) type. Whereas, 10 to 15% have the wet (exudative) type.

What’s the difference?

Dry (atrophic)

The people that have this form might have drusen in their macula, there are yellow deposits. This shouldn’t cause a big problem if they are small. However, if they get bigger, they affect your vision. The light-sensitive cells in your macula get thinner and they die eventually. 

The dry form can also cause you to lose your central vision due to blind spots in the central of your vision.

Wet (exudative) 

With this form, Macular Degeneration affects the blood vessels of your eye. They grow from underneath your macula. Causing them to leak blood and other fluids into your retina. This results in a distorted vision. Effects like blind spots and loss of central vision are common. The bleeding of these blood vessels forms scars over time which leads to permanent loss of your central vision.

How do I recognize Macular Degeneration?

It might be difficult to notice any effects of the disease at an early stage. Because Macular Degeneration doesn’t hurt and doesn’t affect the appearance of your eyes. It often gets noticed when it worsened or it affects both eyes. 

However, it is still very important to see an eye doctor when you think there might be something wrong with your eyes. If you experience sight loss or any discomfort or pain regarding your eyes, don’t hesitate to go see a doctor!


A girl in the blurred background and a special magnifying glass at the front of the picture at the level of the girl's eye


Symptoms of macular degeneration may include:

  • Difficulty reading, watching television, driving, etc.

  • Straight lines becoming wavy or crooked

  • Objects looking smaller than usual

  • Colours appearing less bright than usual

  • Experiencing hallucinations

Three Stages of Macular Degeneration

Early

It is difficult to notice you have AMD when you are in this stage of the disease because you usually don’t experience sight loss in this stage. You get the diagnosis early Aged Macular Degeneration when there are medium-sized drusen present. There are no pigments changes in the retina yet. 

Intermediate

Some people are already experiencing vision loss in this stage. However, the vision loss might not be to the extent of causing problems yet. The diagnosis will be based on the large drusen and/or pigment changed in the retina. 

Late

In this stage, the AMD has already caused significant vision loss.  

What causes Macular Degeneration?

There is not much known to the cause of AMD. There has not been enough research to be able to list the specific factors that cause the disease. What we do now, is that Macular Degeneration is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. 


A close-up shot of a blue eye on a woman's face


There are certain risk factors that increase your chances of having Macular Degeneration. The biggest one is age. AMD most often affects people of the age of sixty and older. The older you get, the more you risk getting Macular Degeneration. 

Other risk factors include:

  • Race - Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than other races. 

  • Genetics – There is a bigger risk when Macular Degeneration runs in the family. 

  • Smoking – Smoking increases your risk significantly.

  • Obesity – Being obese increases your chance of early or intermediate AMD to progress to late AMD. 

  • Cardiovascular diseases – If you had diseases that affect your heart and blood vessels you have a higher risk of AMD.

Preventing or Curing?

At this moment, Macular Degeneration is unfortunately considered incurable. As we hope this changes in the future. There are changes you can make to your current lifestyle in order to reduce the risks. Or even slow down the progression of the disease if you are already being diagnosed. 

A girl running in the park


Risk-reducing changes:

  • Eat healthy – A healthy diet with variety. Include fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts. The antioxidant vitamins and Omega-3 fat acids reduce your risks. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight – Obesity is a risk factor for AMD. Make sure you stay at a healthy weight and reduce your risks. 

  • Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light

  • Exercise regularly

We hope this blog post has been useful and provided you with the information you were seeking. We would like to advise you to have regular eye exams to check your vision, even if you don’t experience any symptoms that might cause any harm. Diagnosis often comes in later stages of diseases. Regular check-ups make it easier to prevent said diseases or slow down the progress.



Monday, 13 September 2021