Macular degeneration is a deterioration of the macula. The macula is at the center of the retina. The retina is the part of the eye that sends visual images to the brain so a person can see. This damage to the macula results in blind spots, blurry or distorted vision. This disease is one of the major visual disease in the United States.
There is not a lot known about macular degeneration. What is known, however is that it is closely linked with aging. There has also been a link found between the disease and a gene variant called complement factor H or CFH. Macular degeneration has two forms: dry or wet. Dry or non-nonvascular macular degeneration is the most common and occurs in 85% to 90% of diagnosis. Wet or nonvascular macular degeneration is a rarer form that results in the worst vision impairments. It is thought that the dry form is caused by thinning of the tissue in the macula. The wet form may be caused by leakage of blood and fluid into the retina.
Since little is known about what exactly causes macular degeneration it is hard to prevent it, but there are some guidelines that have been developed on risk factors that may contribute to the disease. The following list is of those risk factors.
- gender (women are at more of a risk)
- family history
- high cholesterol
- race (Caucasians are at more of a risk)
- exposure to ultraviolet light (less is better)
These are just factors that have been studied and shown to play a part in increasing the risk of developing the disease.