What Causes Dry Macular Degeneration?

Jan 01, 2024
What Causes Dry Macular Degeneration?
Your macula is a vital part of how you see, and dry macular degeneration is a condition that permanently damages your vision. Read on to find out why it happens and how it can be treated.

Sight is essential to so many everyday activities in our lives, from watching where you’re going when walking, running, or driving, to reading a book. And for many of the things you see, detail is equally important, such as reading, writing, making out the details of a painting, or just seeing traffic signs while you’re on the road. Clear vision to do these and other important tasks is the function of a part of your eye called the macula, which is a part of your retina that’s responsible for your central vision.

Dry macular degeneration is a condition that often affects people as they get older. While it won’t make you blind, it can make your life a lot more difficult, so let’s learn more about this eye condition. If you live in the Muncie, Indiana, area and you’re dealing with problems with your central vision like macular degeneration, Dr. Jeffrey Rapkin and his experienced medical team at Retina Consultants of Muncie can help.

Let’s explore this condition by examining what dry macular degeneration is, the factors that cause it, and what can be done to treat it.

What is dry macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration affects central vision, which is your ability to see things straight ahead. It often occurs in people over 50, currently affecting nearly 20 million adults in America. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry (atrophic) and wet (exudative). Most people that deal with it have the dry form. Very small, yellow protein deposits called drusen form under your macula and over time the deposits dry up this part of your retina.

The atrophic form happens gradually, and often doesn’t lead to total central vision loss, though if it changes to the wet form, the risk of total loss is much greater.

What conditions cause it?

This progressive condition can be caused by several contributing factors:

Oxidative damage

Oxidation is a normal process for our cells, but excess oxidation of the mitochondrial cells in your retina can lead to damage that increases your risk of developing dry macular degeneration.

Genetic factors

Genes that promote inflammation are connected to the hereditary components of this form of macular degeneration, so families with prominent genetic markers for this are at higher risk.

Medical conditions

Many medical problems can increase your risk of this eye condition, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity.

Lifestyle choices

Certain personal choices also affect your risk, including eating a diet high in saturated fats and smoking.

How can it be treated?

It isn’t possible to reverse the damage done by dry macular degeneration, but there are ways to slow down the condition and keep it from getting worse. Low vision rehabilitation, vitamin supplements, and lens replacement surgery are options to help, and we offer photodynamic and laser therapy to manage the condition. There is a new medication on the market to treat dry macular degeneration, but it has just reached the U.S. this year, and treatment results are still quite early.

If you’re struggling with the loss of central vision associated with dry macular degeneration, we can help you manage the issues and slow down the progression. Make an appointment with Dr. Rapkin and his team at Retina Consultants of Muncie today to see what we can do for you.