Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursaday Topic: Macular Degeneration

  • This is something that Grandpa Spiehs has precursors for. So far it hasn't effected his eyesight.
  • It just really stinks because he's an artist that relies on his sight to complete his art.
  • Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that makes it difficult to see fine details. The condition affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision.
  • This condition is hard to detect because at first there are no symptoms.
  • The most common symptom is dry and blurred vision. As the disease progresses, you may need more light to read or perform everyday tasks. The blurred spot in the center of vision gradually gets larger and darker. In the later stages, you may not be able to recognize faces until people are close to you.
  • Macular degeneration typically does not affect side (peripheral) vision. This is very important, because it means you will never have complete vision loss from this disease.
  • No treatment exists for dry macular degeneration. However, a combination of antioxidants and zinc may slow the progression of the disease.
  • Two types of macular degeneration exist:

  1. Dry macular degeneration occurs when the macula becomes thin and dries out. Small yellow deposits, called drusen, form under the macula. As these drusen increase in size and number, they create a blurred spot in the central vision of the eye. Almost all people with macular degeneration have the dry form.
  2. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula and retina (this is called choroidal neovascularization). These vessels can leak blood and fluid, damaging the macula. Vision loss in the central vision can occur very quickly. Only about 10 percent of people with macular degeneration have this form, but it causes most of the vision loss associated with the condition.
  • Scientists aren’t sure what causes macular degeneration. The disease is most common in people over 60, which is why it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration.
  • Other risk factors are:
  1. Caucasian race
  2. Cigarette smoking
  3. Family history
  4. Female gender
  5. Obesity
  • Grandpa Spiehs only has the caucasian/family history that fits into his risk factors. His uncle has it to, and had to quit farming because of macular degeneration and just from getting older.

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