23 May Prevent Macular Degeneration
Prevent Macular Degeneration
Vision is the most important of our five senses, yet many people still take it for granted. For those who want to prevent macular degeneration, getting a regular eye exam is important. That’s because if caught early it can be stopped or slowed. There are three stages of macular degeneration: early, intermediate, and late. Because you may experience little to no symptoms in the first two stages, a regular eye exam is the only way protect your vision. Important to make note of, no matter what your age or vision, getting an annual exam is just as important as getting a physical.
Risk factors such as smoking, weight, and high blood pressure can all increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. All of which, are controllable (to reduce your risk make healthy choices). However, other factors such as age and genetics (those with family ties to the eye disease) are uncontrollable risk factors. While some people can simply decide to make healthier choices, others will have to be even more diligent in their pursuit to prevent macular degeneration. Regardless of your risk factors, knowing what you can do to prevent the disease is key.
Regardless of your risk factors, knowing what you can do to prevent the disease is key.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a common eye disease that causes the blurring of your central vision. Or put simply, it is a problem with your retina. It happens when the part of the retina called the macula is damaged. The macula (the most sensitive part of the eye) is a small spot near the center of the retina, which is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provide central vision. When this part of the retina is damaged, the center of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted, or dark. Over time, the blurred area may become larger and you may develop blank spots in your central vision. Additionally, objects may no longer appear as bright as they use to be.
There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet. The dry form is the most common, and the wet form is less common but happens more quickly and is more severe. With the dry form, vision becomes blurry slowly. So, you can have it for several years before it has an impact on your ability to read, drive, and do everyday activities. Often the first sign of the wet form is that straight likes look wavy or curved, much like the pictures below. In the wet form, vision loss happens quickly and can be severe.
What You Can Do To Prevent It
While you can’t prevent macular degeneration, there are some steps you can take that may lower your risk of getting it. Macular degeneration can be stopped or slowed if caught early enough. Which is why regular eye exams are crucial. That said, by getting an annual eye exam, and wearing the right protective eyewear while in the sun or during screen time, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing it.
Not only is harmful UV light present on sunny days, it is also present on overcast or hazy days. Whether it causes skin cancer, aging of the skin, or macular degeneration, sun exposure has a cumulative affect, so it needs to be limited. While the primary source of UV light is the sun, other sources include video display terminals, fluorescent lighting, high intensity mercury vapor lamps, and xenon arc lamps. To protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation, your sunglasses should block 100 percent of UV rays and also absorb most HEV rays. UV protection is available for clear lenses as well as sunglasses.
Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could damage retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like macular degeneration. That’s because almost all of the visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. As a result, not only can this light affect vision, it can also prematurely age the eyes.
Since constant exposure to blue light from smart phones, tablets, computer screens, and TVs is an issue, there are a few ways you can decrease your exposure. Try to reduce your screen time, by taking frequent breaks, and when possible use screen filters. Another great way to reduce exposure to blue light is using computer glasses during screen time.
Macular degeneration can be stopped or slowed if caught early enough.
Protecting Your Vision
It’s important to take care of your eyes just like you take care of the rest of our body! While you may think your eyes are healthy, getting an annual comprehensive eye exam is the only way to be sure. In fact, having an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam is one of the best things you can do to protect your eye and vision health. Start protecting your vision today by booking your annual eye exam. For more information on our eye exams or to book an appointment, call us at (805) 522-7007 or send us a message.