Causes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)
Age-related macular degeneration affects the macula, which is located in the center of the retina. When the macula starts to deteriorate, it causes a loss in central vision. The exact causes of this condition are not known, but it is believed that lifestyle and heredity can play a factor. For example, individuals with a family history are more likely to develop ARMD than those without a family history of the condition. Eating a diet high in fat and participating in unhealthy behaviors, like smoking may also contribute to the development of ARMD.
Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Advanced Age – ARMD is most common in individuals who are over the age of 50.
- Genetics – There are specific genes that are responsible for the development of ARMD, and those genes tend to be hereditary.
- Obesity and Heart Disease – Individuals who are overweight or who have heart disease are at increased risk for developing ARMD.
- Tobacco Usage – Individuals who smoke or who are exposed to cigarette smoke may be at an increased risk for ARMD.
Symptoms of ARMD
The primary symptom of ARMD is a progressive central vision loss. Individuals with the condition do not typically experience pain or discomfort. Instead, they may first notice that their central vision is a bit blurry, and they may have trouble reading or seeing when driving.
If you are around the age of 50 and notice any change in your vision, it is a good idea to schedule an immediate appointment in order to determine if you have signs of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
Eye Disease Progression
ARMD typically occurs in two stages. The first stage is known as dry ARMD, which can occur in one or both eyes and affects about 80 percent of those with the condition. This form of ARMD does not cause leaking in the blood vessels behind the retina and macula. Instead, the macula tends to get thinner over the course of several years and drusen can start to develop on the macula, which are clumps of protein that appear yellow.
Advanced ARMD is known as wet ARMD. This form of the condition is diagnosed when the blood vessels behind the macula start to bulge and leak, causing an increase in vision loss. As the original blood vessels deteriorate, the macula may grow new blood vessels, which are not as strong as the original and can cause even more leaking. Individuals with wet ARMD may notice a sudden change in their visual acuity.
ARMD Treatment Options with Our Eye Doctor
The first step to treating ARMD is getting diagnosed early. This means it is vitally important to get yearly eye exams that check for damage to the macula and retina, especially if you are 50 years of age or older. The dry type of the condition does not have any type of treatment, but by taking certain vitamins and supplements, such as lutein and vitamins E and C, may slow the disease progression. Glasses and contacts can help improve visual acuity so that you can still read and drive.
To schedule an appointment to have your eyes examined for common eye diseases and conditions, like ARMD, give Niagara Eye Associates a text or call today at (814) 455-8004.