Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an age-related condition caused by damage to the macula. The macula is the central area of the retina, which is the lining of the eye where light is focused. The retina functions in a manner similar to film in a camera. Macular degeneration results in the loss of central vision. However, the peripheral vision is not affected. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in Americans over the age 60. More than 1.6 million Americans suffer from age-related macular degeneration.

The two types of macular degeneration are wet and dry. Dry is the most common type accounting for 90% of all cases and is associated with slow vision loss. The vision loss is usually mild to moderate in severity.

Wet macular degeneration is caused by fluid or blood leaking under the macula. This can result in a more rapid and severe loss of vision. In recent years, several new treatments have been approved for wet macular degeneration including laser treatments, photodynamic therapy and medication injections to the eye.

Macular degeneration is the focus of new research and several new treatments options will be available in the future. Studies show that eating vegetables, avoiding smoking and protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light will decrease the risk of macular degeneration. Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, and supplemental zinc and lutein may also slow the progression of the disease.