Age-related macular degeneration is a common, serious eye disorder which has been in the news lately since word got out that actor Judi Dench suffers from it. It involves the gradual destruction of the macula, which is the area of the retina that allows for sharp central vision. Age-related macular degeneration is one of the main causes of vision loss in people over 60.
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration, "dry" and "wet". "Dry" macular degeneration is the more common of the two, and the main symptom is central vision that gradually grows blurrier, making it hard to recognize faces and read and perform other focused tasks, especially in low light. "Wet" macular degeneration occurs when tiny blood vessels grow beneath the macula and leak blood and fluid into the area. The main symptom of wet macular degeneration is that straight lines begin to appear wavy. (People with the wet form have always had the dry form first, though they may have gone undiagnosed.)
What to Do if You Have Symptoms
See an eye doctor immediately if you notice the symptoms described above (especially if straight lines are looking wavy, because the wet form of macular degeneration progresses quickly). Although there is no cure, there are treatments which may slow the disease's advance and improve vision.
Prevention and Risk Factors
Some of the risk factors for age-related macular degeneration are out of your control: Age, obviously, plus women and white people are at greater risk. But there are a few steps you can take to lower your risk, which include controlling blood pressure, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. The National Eye Institute also recommends that you eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables and fish. A study published last year found that women who ate fish and other forms of omega-3 fatty acids reduce their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
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