Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of irreversible loss of central vision for senior citizens, generally after age 50. Risk factors include, but are not limited to, increasing age, family history, fair complexion, light-colored irises, smoking, sleep apnea, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high myopia (nearsightedness) and damage from ultra-violet light.
All central vision (straight ahead vision) originates in the macula which is located in a specific small area on the retina (back of the eye). Any damage to the macula will result in some loss or even total loss of the central vision but without affect to peripheral (outer/side) vision. Imagine a large doughnut - when looking straight ahead, you can see the doughnut but not the doughnut hole.
The dry form of affects approximately 90% of those who have macular degneration and is comparatively less serious. This process of the macula “wearing out” is gradual, may affect only one eye and may not create noticeable vision symptoms.
The wet form accounts for approximately 90% of the most serious loss of vision cases. This form occurs when tiny blood vessels begin to degenerate with age causing tiny leaks which can lead to serious and rapid deterioration of the central vision capabilities.
Positive steps to take include stopping smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, taking antioxidant supplements and a diet high in fruits and vegetables as dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.
Regular health, eye health and vision examination is of extreme importance for early detection and management of these conditions.