What is Macular Degeneration?

Older Americans are prone to age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. While most people are familiar with the first two conditions, they are often less familiar with macular degeneration, yet it affects approximately 10% of the over 60 population in the US. Understanding what is macular degeneration is the first step in identifying and preventing the condition.

What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration, also referred to as age related macular degeneration (AMD), is a condition that damages the macula of the eye. The macula is a small area near the center of the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. It helps to keep central vision sharp, so that you can see objects straight ahead, and perform tasks such as reading, writing, and driving.

AMD comes on gradually for most people, so vision loss is not immediate. The disease is common among the older population in the US and other developed countries. It is characterized by progressive visual impairment relating to central vision, which makes it difficult to see when doing some tasks.

There are two types of AMD, dry and wet, but dry AMD is the most common. With dry AMD, there is a breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula that send images to the brain.

Who is at risk?
People over the age of 60 with a family history of AMD, are at risk for the disease. Smokers, obese individuals, and those with hypertension, are also at risk.

If you have additional questions about macular degeneration, it’s best to consult with an eye care professional. Clients in the Washington DC and northern VA areas can contact ophthalmologist Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at New View Eye Center, Reston, VA, for screening. Call 703 834 9777 to schedule a consultation.

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