What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a disorder characterized by loss of vision acuity as a result of the degeneration that occurs in the macula or central part of the retina.
Symptoms of macular degeneration
The main symptoms of macular degeneration are: Loss of central vision, distorted vision, distorted vision of straight lines, central vision spot when reading a book, seeing excessive bright light surrounding the letters, etc.
Causes of macular degeneration
Macular degeneration occurs as a result of the deterioration of the central cells of the retina, a process that occurs with aging, being fairly common from the 60 on. This often leads to a total loss of central vision, not to peripheral vision.
It has two forms: the most common occurs gradually as a result of loss of cells in the retina (AMD= Central geographic atrophy = dry or atrophic macular degeneration); Another occurring more rapidly as a result of abnormal growth of capillaries beneath the retina (wet AMD = Neovascular or exudative AMD). The latter is more aggressive than the first.
Among the main reasons that could explain macular degeneration, we could point out the following ones:
– Cysts: The degeneration is caused by the development of cysts in the macula.
– Multiple Sclerosis
– Arteriosclerosis: Hardening of the blood vessels can cause poor circulation in the capillaries of the eye, worsening the disease.
– Diet: A poor diet, rich in animal fats that produce cholesterol and hinder the flow of blood, together with the ingestion of toxic substances and lack of exercise, would be something that could get worse vision.
– Tobacco: smoking has proved to favor macular degeneration.
– Free Radicals: Vision is one of the most sensitive organs and the most affected by oxidation. In the case of a degenerative process, elimination of excessive free radicals would slow the progression of this disease. Proper nutrition plays an important role in preventing degenerative visual diseases. (More information about macular degeneration diet in the listing above)
– Genetics: People having relatives with macular degeneration are more likely to suffer it. There are more cases of macular degeneration among Caucasian people than in African ones.
It has been found that some genes could be associated with the risk of developing it, such as HTRA1. Other suggest that the mutation of certain genes could be the reason, such as the ATP Synthase Gene 63 mutation or the C3 gene mutation.
– Excess of sunlight: Too much blue light (HEV light = high-energy visible light) has been considered to be influential in the development of macular degeneration. This does not imply that sunlight has to be avoided. All the contrary, sunlight is necessary for a good vision health. However, it is important to use proper sunglasses that protect as against this type of noxious light
Diagnostics and treatment macular degeneration
Any eye problem first requires a visit to a specialist who will provide you a diagnosis about it. This is especially required for retinal detachment, glaucoma or macular degeneration whose appropriate and quick treatment is needed to avoid visual loss or even blindness.
To diagnose this disorder, the doctor or ophthalmologist may perform a series of specific tests such as an Optical coherence tomography or a Fluorescein angiography.
People with macular degeneration can use some adaptative resources to see better, such as magnifying glasses. Special electronic devices are used to magnify texts in order them could be read properly on a computer screen. Text-to-speech software can be able to transform text into sound.
Some other techniques can also favor reading on a computer screen. People with macular degeneration find it very difficult to read on a computer screen, because they see to much contrast between the text and the white background.
Increasing the size of the text and changing the background from white to black and the text from black to white can make reading easier. Squinting from time to time while reading is another technique that can also give assistance.
Some changes in habits are also necessary to avoid macular degeneration progression: elimination of toxins such as tobacco and alcohol and a diet rich in natural foods, especially carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin may be helpful.
More information about macular degeneration and its natural treatment.