Macular degeneration

May 15, 2011 by Francis Turgeon

Macular degeneration

One of the causes of vision loss in people over the age of 50 is macular degeneration, a condition that attacks a person’s central vision while peripheral vision remains intact. Approximately one million Canadians have some form of macular degeneration, and with an aging population, that number is likely to continue to rise.

Age is the leading cause of the disease. Adults under the age of 50 are rarely diagnosed with macular degeneration. However, about 10 per cent of people over the age of 75 have some advanced form of the condition. Family history, smoking, high blood pressure and poorly controlled blood cholesterol levels are other risk factors for macular degeneration.

The macula is a specialized part of the eye. Located almost directly at the centre of the eye, it is the region that provides us with the sharpest images. We are always, albeit unknowingly, using this part of our eyes to see things clearly and accurately in the middle of our field of vision.

When the cells that make up the macula degenerate and stop functioning properly, vision problems occur. Objects in the centre of our line of sight begin to appear blurry and deformed. The condition can also affect a person’s ability to read, recognize faces or drive a car.

Macular degenerationThere is no cure for macular degeneration. It is possible, however, to slow the progression of the disease with medication and medical procedures. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the less likely the patient is to experience complications. This is why it is so important to undergo regular eye exams and detect the first signs of macular degeneration.

Making healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent the disease. Quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are all ways to stave off macular degeneration. Furthermore, there are some vitamin supplements that have been shown to slow the development of the disease.

Macular degeneration is a seri-ous health problem that can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. For the time being, prevention is still the best way for you to protect yourself from vision loss associated with this condition. For more information, don’t hesitate to consult your pharmacist.

References:
– Tortora, G. and S. Grabowski. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 9th Edition. ERPI: 2000, p. 547 and 571.
– Web site of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; consulted –March 13, 2011: http://www.cnib.ca/en/your-eyes/eye-conditions/amd/)
– Web site of PasseportSanté.net; consulted March 13, 2011: http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Maux/Problemes/Fiche.aspx?doc=degenerescence_maculaire_pm
– Web site on age-related macular degeneration; consulted March 13, 2011: http://www.dmlainfo.be/index.html