Macular degeneration is the progressive damage of a particular region of the retina known as the macula. The macula is a highly specialized central area of the retina, responsible for centralized sharp vision which helps us to carry out the tasks like reading and recognising colours. This disorder causes an irreversible loss of central vision. In the beginning, the vision gets distorted or gray.
What is Age-related macular degeneration(AMD)?
Age-related macular degeneration is a retinal degenerative disease that causes loss of central vision because of the damage to the macular region of the retina, and it progresses with age, hence it is known as Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD or AMD). It is commonly seen in person above the age of 50.
There is a wet and dry type of macular degeneration. MD has become a very major problem as millions of people are affected with it. This is usually not seen in younger people. In MD, person goes blind slowly and progressively.
The Macula or the macular region is an area of the retina where the coloured sensitive nerves are concentrated called as “Cones” . These cones contain coloured light sensitive receptors. These receptors begin to die and this condition is called Macular degeneration.
Process of Macular degeneration.
Dry Macular degeneration (DMD)
Early in the process, the pigment behind the retina begins to form clumps of dead cells. Next the dead cells are replaced by scar called “Drusen”. These scars like plaque in the arteries, are made of calcium, cholesterol and fibrous tissue. Here no fluid is involved; this stage is called dry Macular degeneration.
Wet Macular degeneration (WMD)
Here, the arteries that supply oxygen and nutrition to the sensitive retinal tissue get blocked. This makes difficult for the retinal tissues to thrive and function properly and hence stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in this area.
These new formed blood vessels are fragile; hence can break and can bleed, causing damage to the retina. This called Wet Macular degeneration.
Both wet and dry macular degeneration are caused by the inability to make new cells. To make new cells, it requires all the raw materials like nutrition and oxygen and the ability to utilize these materials. Since the retina consists of 50% of cholesterol by weight, one must not take drugs that prevents the liver from making cholesterol. The incidents of MD appear to have increased since statins were introduced.
Cause of Macular degeneration
There are studies that identify a particular gene that play an important role in Macular degeneration and people with the copy of genes from both the parents have a 98% chance of developing Macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration affecting children.
The Macular degeneration affecting young people is called Juvenile Macular degeneration or Sargardt's disease or fundus flavimaculatus.
Other Macular degeneration
There is a type of Macular degeneration that are passed down through families known as Sorsby's fundus dystrophy.
Major risk factor of Macular degeneration
1. The older you are more likely you are to develop Macular degeneration. Most people having macular degeneration are over 65yrs.
2. There is a strong likelihood between smoking and Macular degeneration.
3. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease have been linked to Macular degeneration.
4. Exposure to UV light is also at risk
5. Chronic exposure to the sun is also found to a cause of Macular degeneration