Macular degeneration is an age-related eye condition that affects the light-sensing central portion of the retina, called the macula, at the back of the eye. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. The dry type is more common and occurs when vision decreases due to the formation of hard yellow deposits on the macula called drusen. Because the dry type is more common, it might be helpful for you to learn more about it if you are currently experiencing eye problems of have a history of AMD or similar conditions in your family.
1. Viral Infections Can Put You at Risk
Through research, Dr. Kang Zhang and his team at the Shiley Eye Center in California have discovered a link between an immune system molecule and the development of dry macular degeneration. The discovery suggests that a viral infection in the body may cause inflammation that can lead to the eventual development of AMD.
2. It Can Lead To Development of the Wet Type
The wet type of macular degeneration is less common than the dry type and occurs when fluids collect in the retina due to leakage of abnormal blood vessels in the area of the macula. Having dry macular degeneration doesn’t necessarily mean that you will develop the wet type later on, but it does put you at greater risk.
This is a risk you should take seriously because, between the two types, wet macular degeneration is behind the most serious cases of vision loss despite only occurring in approximately 10% of people with AMD. While treatment modalities for dry macular degeneration largely involve behavior modification (diet, exercise, etc.), you may require injections to the eye by a retina specialist for the wet type.
3. It Usually Doesn’t Cause Total Blindness
Dry macular degeneration often causes loss of central vision. However, it may leave the peripheral vision intact. This means that your vision loss is unlikely to be total, although it may still have a significantly negative impact on driving and other life activities.
4. It Can Be Managed but Not Cured
Though research is ongoing, there is currently no cure available for macular degeneration. You may be able to improve your symptoms with regular exercise and a Mediterranean-based diet. This type of meal plan is rich in sources of good fats like olive oil, fish, nuts, and seeds, as well as plant-based foods like potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and whole-grain bread. Some people also find that over-the-counter vitamins formulated specifically for eye health may be of benefit. However, experts recommend this as a secondary treatment modality.