Macular degeneration refers to aging changes within the retina. The disease may involve blurred or distorted vision and typically affects people 55 years and older. The condition may occur more frequently in some families with certain genetic predispositions. Approximately 33% of individuals over the age of 75 years will be affected.
Macular degeneration affects the function of specialized cells with the macular region of the retina. This region is what allows us to see colors and fine details in our environment. As these cells become diseased, the function slowly degrades and vision becomes impaired. The early symptoms are usually not noticed until the disease is already moderately advanced.
Current recommendations for people with macular degeneration or at risk of macular degeneration include wearing sunglasses, eating a low-fat diet with at least 2 daily servings of dark green vegetables, and avoid smoking or second hand smoke. Additionally, eating foods high in Vitamin C, E, and Lutein may be helpful. Vitamin supplements as recommend by the AREDS Study are indicated for those individuals who already have moderate macular degeneration.
In advanced cases, your ophthalmologist may recommend seeing a retina specialist. Testing may involve special photography of the retina to evaluate for specific disease areas. Additionally, some patients may benefit from special laser procedures to reduce the risk of future progression. Although the laser will not restore your lost vision, it may slow or reduce the rate of progression of the macular degeneration. You may require multiple laser treatments which can be determined by your retina specialist