Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration (and How to Treat It)
Submitted by Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center on June 3, 2022
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older people. By the age of 75, roughly one-third of Americans are affected. Those with certain risk factors are especially vulnerable. Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments are available. The surgeons at Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center will discuss your macular degeneration treatment options during your appointment at our Atlanta office.
It’s the job of the retina’s central segment, the macula, to collect images to send on to the brain. When degeneration occurs, the macula no longer receives images correctly. While those with advanced macular degeneration retain peripheral vision, they can no longer read, drive or view items in detail.
Macular degeneration takes two forms: wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration occurs as the cells in the macula break down. Wet macular degeneration results from abnormal blood vessels developing in the back of the eye.
Most people are diagnosed with the dry form. Both types of macular degeneration cause vision loss, but vision loss is more severe, and the onset is more rapid in the wet form.
Age is the primary risk factor for macular degeneration, and there is not much anyone can do about that. Another major risk factor, however, is avoidable. Smoking cigarettes or regular exposure to smoke increases the risk of developing the dry form of macular degeneration considerably. Try to quit smoking to lower the risk of vision loss along with many other tobacco-related diseases.
Other risk factors include:
- Heredity – There is a genetic component to macular degeneration. If close family members have been diagnosed with the disease, you are at increased risk.
- Obesity – In obese individuals, the risk of progression to severe macular degeneration is more pronounced.
- Heart disease – Those suffering from cardiovascular disease have a higher risk of macular degeneration.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
There is no treatment currently available for most cases of dry macular degeneration. There are preventive measures patients can take to slow the progression of the disease. These include consuming a healthy diet and taking vitamin supplements recommended by your doctor.
For certain patients with severe dry macular degeneration in both eyes, the implantation of a telescopic lens in one eye may boost close and distance vision.
Treatment for wet macular degeneration involves the injection of medications known as anti-VEGF drugs into the eye. Photodynamic therapy is another option. This treatment consists of anti-VEGF injections along with laser therapy.
Schedule Your Eye Exam at Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center
Regular eye examinations can detect macular degeneration in its earliest stages before vision loss becomes noticeable. If you’re interested in learning more about macular degeneration and treatment options, contact Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center today to schedule an appointment.