Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most prevalent disease that causes seniors to undergo severe vision loss and even blindness. AMD causes the macula to become thinner. The macula is a central part of the retina—a layer of nerve cells behind the eyeball that send signals to the optic nerve. The macula is related to straight-ahead vision and allows a person to see extremely fine details.
AMD is divided into two categories: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more mild, more common, and slower in its development. While dry macular degeneration can advance to the more serious wet form, most cases do not.
The causes of dry macular degeneration are not completely understood. However, lifestyle choices, certain genes, and certain illnesses can all increase the risks. For instance, those who smoke, have a poor diet, or have put on a significant amount of weight can cause dry AMD to develop sooner and more rapidly. Caucasians are more prone to developing this condition compared to other races, and certain genetic changes, like in the CFH gene, are believed to increase the risk of this disease. Lastly, conditions that affect blood vessels can also heighten the risk of dry macular development.
Since degeneration happens slowly, a person may not even realize he or she has a vision problem at first. Dry macular degeneration can develop in one eye first, but both are usually affected.
Although there is no cure for dry macular degeneration, the condition can be drastically improved and slowed down.
If the condition doesn’t progress to the wet type, then a doctor can treat a patient with laser therapies or injections. Lifestyle changes and diet changes are key to improving symptoms. For instance, if a person is a smoker, he or she should work on kicking the habit. If a person has high cholesterol or eats a low-nutrient diet, he or she should work on eating more green vegetables and adding more copper, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and beta-carotenes to his or her diet.