A Deeper Look into Macular Degeneration

Previously, we’ve discussed the signs and symptoms of macular degeneration and treatment options available through your eye doctor. While it’s important to understand the kind of changes that can indicate macular degeneration, ensuring you seek assistance from an eye doctor quickly, there’s more to the condition.  

Today, we are going to take a deeper look into macular degeneration. If you are wondering what causes the conditions and if there are any steps you can take to reduce your odds of getting it, here’s what you need to know.  

Causes of Macular Degeneration  

There are two main kinds of macular degeneration: dry form and wet form. With dry macular degeneration, drusen – a sort of fat deposit – may appear in the macula. The exact cause of drusen themselves isn’t known, though some believe it is waste from a person’s retina.  

While a few small drusen may not cause any vision issues, as the yellow deposits grow or become more numerous, they can lead to vision dimming or distortions. Usually, people first notice the changes when they are trying to read. However, in time, dry macular degeneration can harm the light-sensitive cells in your macula. It’s also possible to develop blind spots, typically in your central vision.  

Wet form macular degeneration has a different cause. It develops when blood vessels grow in spots underneath the macular where they shouldn’t be, allowing fluid and blood to leak into your retina. Usually, this results in distorted vision, like straight lines appearing wavy. Central vision loss and blind spots can also develop, particularly if there is scarring. Like drusen, it isn’t entirely known why the errant blood vessels form.  

Dry macular degeneration can be a cause of the wet form. This causes some to believe that the development of the blood vessels is an attempt to rid the eye of the drusen. However, the wet form can develop without dry form, so there may be other catalysts involved.  

Preventative Measures for Macular Degeneration  

While it may not be entirely possible to prevent macular degeneration, there are steps people can take to lessen their chances of getting the condition. For example, quitting smoking is a smart move, as there could be a connection between smoking and macular degeneration. Similarly, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays could help.  

Eating a balanced diet is also wise. It ensures you consume enough critical vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health. Plus, obesity is a risk factor, and eating a healthy diet may help you avoid being overweight.  

Taking in enough antioxidants (either through diet or with supplements) could also reduce your macular degeneration chances. Additionally, being mindful of your cardiovascular health could make a difference, as individuals with pre-existing heart and blood vessel conditions may be at higher risk of macular degeneration.  

Finally, keep up with your eye doctor appointments. By catching macular degeneration early, your chances of preserving your vision go up significantly.  

If you haven’t been screened for macular degeneration recently or are experiencing any vision changes, see your eye doctor as soon as possible. At ECVA, our team works diligently to care for our patients, including screening for and treating macular degeneration. If you want to ensure that your eyes are healthy, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

What Is Your Eye Health IQ?

Many people have grown up knowing certain vision “facts.” They may have heard them from their parents as a child, passing the tidbit of vision along to their children as their parents did with them.  

However, some of this vision “wisdom” may or may not be true. If you are wondering what your eye health IQ is, here’s a look at some common beliefs and whether they are founded.  

Eating Carrots Boosts Your Eyesight  

This is a popular belief that is somewhat true. While eating any food won’t bring your vision back to 20/20 after it’s degraded, carrots contain vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant important for eye health.  

Reading in Low Light Damages Your Eyes  

This one is false. While reading in dim light might cause you to strain, leading to a headache, it doesn’t damage your eyes. However, it does become harder to do as a person ages due to natural changes that occur in a person’s vision over time.  

Screen Time Harms Your Vision  

Yes and no. While being in front of a screen doesn’t damage your eyes, it can cause some issues. Headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision can occur, usually due to eye fatigue. People tend to blink less when they are concentrating on a screen, causing eyes to get irritated and tired. However, the screen itself isn’t causing permanent damage.  

UV Rays Can Sunburn Your Eyes  

This one is true. UV rays can burn your eyes just as they can burn your skin, causing your eyes to be red and itchy. Additionally, long-term UV exposure can lead to other kinds of eye damage, including to the retina. It may even promote the development of cataracts.  

Smoking is Bad for Your Eyes  

Here’s another true one. Smoking (including secondhand smoke) can be harmful to your vision. It may lead to the earlier development of cataracts and may increase your risk of macular degeneration and optic nerve damage, all of which can potentially lead to blindness.  

Squinting Damages Your Vision  

This one is false. While it may lead to headaches and crow’s feet wrinkles, squinting doesn’t harm your vision. It can actually help you focus. However, if you’re always squinting, it could signal a vision issue, like the need for new glasses or the presence of inflammation that’s making your eyes sensitive to light.  

The Eye Are the Window to the Soul  

While you can’t see a person’s soul through their eyes, you can find out a lot about their overall health. Certain eye symptoms could indicate the presence of other conditions. For example, dry eyes may suggest an autoimmune disorder, while blurry vision might occur in individuals with diabetes.  

Hopefully, you scored high on your eye health IQ test. If you haven’t tested your eyes’ health recently, take this opportunity to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. The ECVA team works diligently to care for our patients’ health and would be happy to check your eyes to ensure they are in the best shape possible. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.