Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States, and as of right now, there is no known cure for it. Over 11 million people have some form of age-related macular degeneration, and that number will only continue to grow. There are three types of macular degeneration — wet, dry and Stargardt disease. Wet and dry macular degeneration are caused by aging, and Stargardt disease is a hereditary form of macular degeneration found in young people.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Most cases of macular degeneration are “dry,” meaning the deterioration of the retina is related to small yellow deposits under the retina called drusen. The macula thins and dries out over time, causing it to lose its function. Dry macular degeneration can cause reduced central and night vision, visual distortions, blurry vision and difficulty reading or seeing in dim lighting.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessels that grow underneath the retina and leak fluid or blood. Wet macular degeneration is more severe than the dry type, and symptoms include blurry and blind spots, general haziness, and rapid or severe loss of your central vision.
Stargardt disease is an inherited retinal disorder that typically causes vision loss during childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Fortunately, people with Stargardt diseases rarely suffer from complete blindness. Common symptoms include hazy or dark spots, gradual loss of vision over time, light sensitivity and color blindness.
While macular degeneration is incurable, there are steps you can take to prevent the disease. While you can’t change your hereditary factors, you can exercise regularly, choose not to smoke, maintain a healthy diet, wear sunglasses with UV protection, and schedule routine eye exams so abnormalities are detected early.
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