Macular degeneration affects about 200,000 new people each year, and while there are treatments that can help, it can’t be cured. If you have a family member who suffers from this condition, you may be wondering if it is hereditary and if you’re at risk for developing the illness.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration affects the center of a person’s field of vision. There are 2 types of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration produces abnormal and leaky blood vessels under your retina. Dry macular degeneration causes the retina itself to deteriorate.
If you have either type, you may notice blurred vision or a dark spot in the center of your field of vision. Over time, this dark spot can grow larger.
While early-onset macular degeneration is possible, most people start to show symptoms once they are over 40 years of age.
There are a number of risk factors for macular degeneration, and while all cases are not due to a family history of the condition, macular degeneration is more common if you have a family member such as a parent or sibling with the disease. In fact, you are up to 4 times as likely to suffer from the condition if others in your family do as well.
What Is Age Related Macular Degeneration?
With age comes many health issues, and that includes macular degeneration. In fact, you have about a 2% risk of getting the condition when you’re middle aged compared to a 30% chance once you’re over the age of 75, so age does play a significant role in the disease.
Of course, there are other risk factors such as a person’s lifestyle habits. These include:
- Eating Preprocessed Foods
- Eating Artificial Fats
- Not Wearing Sunglasses
Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
While you can’t reverse macular degeneration and there is no cure for this condition, there are treatments that can help slow down the progression and keep you from severe loss of vision. Some of these treatments will depend on whether you have the wet or dry version of the condition.
These treatments include:
- Vitamins – One large study has shown that the proper supplement formula reduces the risk of vision loss in dry macular degeneration.
- Anti-Angiogenic Medications – These are injected into the eye and help stop the formation of blood vessels as well as reduce leaking from current blood vessels in wet macular degeneration.
- Laser Therapy – This can help destroy abnormal blood vessels that are currently growing.
- Surgery – There are several types of surgery that can remove abnormal blood vessels and scar tissue.
Macular degeneration can be a frightening diagnosis for anyone. The good news is that it can be treated and the progression can be slowed down, so you may never have to deal with the serious consequences of this condition. The most beneficial thing you can do if you have blurred vision is to see your doctor right away, as early diagnosis can save your sight.