Home Health Macular degeneration: everything you need to know

Macular degeneration: everything you need to know

Although macular degeneration can be common when we reach an age, there are some factors that can accelerate its appearance, such as excessive sun or tobacco

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Many problems come with age. Among the most common are those related to sight and its loss or decrease.

This time we want to talk about macular degeneration, a very common problem that is best known to prevent or deal with it.

This specific problem usually appears in people older than 60 years and can cause difficulties to perform the most common tasks, such as reading or driving.

Find out more about macular degeneration and take the appropriate measures to avoid it.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a problem that occurs directly in the retina. In this we have a spot or macula that deteriorates because of age and just this is the problem in particular.

When the macula begins to deteriorate, central vision capacity is lost. This deterioration is gradual, so you may not notice it at the beginning, unless you pay too much attention to the smallest details.

Types of macular degeneration

As in many other diseases, there is not a single kind of macular degeneration. In this case there are two types with very particular characteristics:

Dry

This type of macular deterioration is the most common and covers approximately 90% of cases. It occurs when some parts of the macula thin out over the years.

While they are losing thickness, small white or yellow particles appear under the retina called drusen.

These drusen do not affect the vision, but they will serve as a clear signal of the problem.

Wet

This type of deterioration is the least common but it is much more serious. It occurs when there is an abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina.

These vessels can allow fluid (which can be blood or other fluids) to penetrate the membranes and cause scarring of the macula. With this type of macular wear, vision is lost more quickly.

Symptoms of macular degeneration

Although we have already indicated that recognizing macular degeneration is not easy, there are some signs that can help you identify the problem.

These symptoms are:

Alterations in the visual field

The angle of vision that the eye has is called the “visual field”.

  • As macular degeneration progresses, it is affected by spots.
  • You will begin to notice blurred vision when reading, driving, watching television and recognizing faces.

Decreased texture perception

This problem also makes it more difficult to identify textures and subtle changes in the environment.

Although it may seem unimportant, the difficulty to see textures on pavements or stairs can be dangerous and pose a greater risk of falls.

Photophobia

The decreased tolerance to light causes the eyes to have difficulty adjusting to light stimuli. This makes it more difficult to see in low light environments, for example, at night or at dusk.

Risk factors

There is no exact cause for macular degeneration, but there are several risk factors that you should consider to avoid it:

  • Age: As we said, after the age of 60 it is very common for this problem to appear. To reduce the chances it is advisable to perform an ophthalmological check once a year.
  • Smoking: When you smoke, your retina absorbs a lot of the expelled vapors. This allows an oxidation that can contribute to the development and progression of this disease .
  • Family history: Is there a history of macular degeneration in your family? In that case, you must tell your doctor to take it into consideration and evaluate you more carefully.
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop this eye problem. The reason is not known, but it is believed that it may be due to genetic background and skin pigmentation.
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun: We always hear that it is a good idea to expose you to the sun with care. By itself, prolonged exposure to the sun does not cause macular degeneration, but it can facilitate the thinning of the retina.

Try to wear good sunglasses that protect you from the sun and a hat or cap.

How to prevent it?

Because this condition begins with almost no symptoms, identifying it can be difficult. Therefore, it is best to take precautions as soon as possible.

Among the measures you can take to avoid it are:

  • Avoid smoking. Because the cigarette smoke comes into direct contact with the eyes, it is best to avoid it as much as possible.
    In case you currently smoke, it would be a good idea to avoid it. If you do not smoke but you have someone nearby who does, try to get away from their smoke.
  • Use good quality glasses. Dark glasses are much more than a fashion item. When you choose the right ones, you make sure that a minimum amount of UV rays comes into contact with your eyes.
  • Although everywhere you can find cheap dark glasses, it is best to use one or two of very good quality. It is true that they will be more expensive but their durability and benefits are invaluable.
  • Visit your ophthalmologist frequently. The best way to avoid or control macular degeneration is by detecting it from the beginning.Luckily, this is not impossible and you will only have to go to your ophthalmologist. Remember to do it, at least, once a year.

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