If macular degeneration runs in your family, you may worry that you are inevitably going to have this disease. Although genetics play a part in developing macular degeneration, that is not all that determines if you will get the condition or not. Tobacco use, your nutrition, wearing eye protection and other factors will be able to determine how at-risk you are for developing this condition and if you can avoid it altogether.
Changes in your eyes can happen slowly over time, so much so that you may not notice those changes until an eye disease has progressed. Macular degeneration is one such eye disease that cannot be reversed once it has started happening. However, the progression of this disease can be halted when patients are diagnosed and realize that they have it.
Macular degeneration is degenerative disease (hence the name). It is an age-related condition in which the most sensitive part of the retina—called the macula—starts to break down and lose its ability to create clear visual images. The retina of your eye is made up of various tissues in the back of your eye that take in light information from what you see, sending that information to your brain so you know what you are looking at. The macula tissue is just one part of the retina, but a vital part, as it is responsible for central vision. This is the part of the eye we use to read, drive, and recognize faces. Due to genetics and other environmental factors, the macula tissue can break down, and patients will slowly lose their central vision, which can’t be restored.
There is still much to be known with macular degeneration. However, there is a lot that we do know, as macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans that are 65 and older. Because older people represent an increasingly larger percentage of the general population, vision loss associated with macular degeneration is a growing problem. Here are the facts that we know:
The greatest risk factor for macular degeneration is a person’s age. People over 55 are most likely to get AMD, and it is even more common after age 65. This is because it is a degenerative condition, and just like other degenerative conditions, it causes a breakdown of tissue over time. However, you can also be genetically disposed to getting macular degeneration. Studies show that AMD actually does run in families. If your parents and grandparents have macular, you are at a much higher risk for AMD because your tissues will be made up similar to how your relatives tissues are, including your eye tissues. Your race can play a role in increasing your risk as well, because caucasians are more likely to develop this eye disease than any other race.
There is not much you can do about your genetics, age or your race. However, there are other risk factors that you can control that include:
All of these habits can help you avoid macular degeneration as well as other eye diseases. To schedule your eye exam to check for AMD, call Peeper’s Optical today at (303) 333-2800!