If you’ve heard the term “macular degeneration” but aren’t sure what it is or how it occurs or want to know how you may be able to help combat it, this post provides the details you need. If you have remaining questions after reading or have eye care needs in Cape Cod, contact the team at Bayview Optometrics.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the breakdown of the eye’s macula—a small part of the retina or, more specifically, tissue on the back of your eye that is sensitive to light. The macula allows you to see details clearly.
How and why does it occur?
Macular degeneration can take one of two forms:
Dry macular degeneration: This is the kind that a majority of people with the condition will experience. It occurs when the macula’s tissues age and thin. As part of this process, fatty deposits may form under the retina. Over time, the macula may continue to thin and cease to function properly. Vision loss with dry macular degeneration generally occurs gradually rather than all at once.
Symptoms of dry macular degeneration may include hazy vision, difficulty recognizing people’s faces, a need for larger amounts of bright light to see up close and vision that may be blurry when reading or viewing something at a distance.
Wet macular degeneration: A small number of people—about 10 percent—who develop the condition experience this form. It can lead to more vision damage than dry macular degeneration and develops when atypical blood vessels take root beneath a person’s retina. The blood vessels that appear may produce fluid or blood, which can blur or otherwise alter your vision. You may encounter this blood vessel growth in one or both eyes.
This form of the condition may result in a faster loss of vision and will certainly be more obvious than dry macular degeneration. Because of this, early diagnosis and treatment may allow for more opportunity to preserve some, if not most, of your central vision.
With wet macular degeneration, you may experience gray or blank spots in your vision, colors may appear less bright and the size and/or color of an object may look different for each eye.
Benefits of vitamins and supplements
While there is no proven treatment for dry macular degeneration, research indicates that antioxidant vitamins and zinc can limit the severity of the condition in some people by slowing the progression.
For people who may be at high risk of developing wet macular degeneration, vitamin C, vitamin E, zeaxanthin, zinc and lutein may reduce the risk of the condition becoming worse.
A study performed among women with the condition found positive results from taking vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Yellow, orange and other colored fruits and vegetables, as well as dark leafy greens, may help reduce the risk of developing the condition because of the amount of zeaxanthin and lutein they contain.
While supplements are not a cure for macular degeneration, they may help the progression slow down for some people.
To learn more about macular degeneration or whether supplements may be right for you—or to schedule an appointment—the team at Bayview Optometrics is here to provide eye care services in Cape Cod.