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Are You at Risk for Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in people older than 60. At Valley Eye Professionals in the Studio City area of Los Angeles, California, we can help you with medications, laser therapy, and specialized vision aids if you already have some vision changes or loss due to macular degeneration.

But if you’re at risk, you can slow its progression and avoid complete vision loss. Here’s what you need to know about macular degeneration, your risk, and your next steps in preserving your sight.

About macular degeneration

Macular degeneration results when a portion in the center of your retina, known as the macula, wears down. The retina is responsible for sensing light and turning it into images. Macular degeneration can present as a dry form or wet form.

Dry macular degeneration

The dry form of macular degeneration occurs due to drusen, or tiny yellow deposits, that collect on the macula. As the drusen grow larger, they may distort your vision and affect the light-sensitive cells in your macula. As the macular cells die off, you form blind spots and potentially vision loss.

Wet macular degeneration

The wet form occurs when the blood vessels underneath your macula leak fluid and blood into the retina. Your vision becomes distorted as a result. You develop blind spots, wavy lines, and loss of central vision. Permanent vision loss is possible as the affected blood vessels form a scar.

The dry form of macular degeneration is most common. But the dry form can also turn into wet macular degeneration. People who develop macular degeneration need careful monitoring from the team at Valley Eye Professionals so you can avoid severe side effects and preserve at least some vision.

Uncontrollable risk factors

Macular degeneration is often called age-related macular degeneration, because older age is definitely a risk factor for the condition. And you can’t stop the clock.

Macular degeneration also may run in your family. Other factors beyond your control that increase your risk of developing macular degeneration that are inherent to you include:

Women are also more vulnerable to developing macular degeneration. This isn’t because of some gender-specific link, however. It’s due to the fact that women tend to live longer than men.

Controllable risk factors

Some factors that compound your risk of macular degeneration are controllable. For example, smoking greatly increases your risk of developing macular degeneration. 

Consistently exposing your eyes to the sun, without sun protection from quality sunglasses, can also damage your macula. We can recommend just the right pair of protective lenses for your lifestyle and eye health.

People who are overweight, especially with much of that weight concentrated as visceral fat around the abdomen are also at risk. 

If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your primary care provider’s advice to manage the condition. Uncontrolled cardiovascular disease or hypertension can have a serious effect on your risk of macular degeneration.

Early detection of macular degeneration can help you avoid complete vision loss. If you have symptoms of macular degeneration like blurry vision, dark areas in the center of your vision, or changes in the way you see color, make an appointment at Valley Eye Professionals right away.

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