The leading cause of vision impairment for the aging population over 50 is macular degeneration, which damages the sharp and central vision in the eyes. In essence, it is the central part of the retina that is affected from the disease, and it’s the part we rely on for seeing objects clearly and in fine detail. The causes of macular degeneration are unknown, but because it’s extremely rare in people under age 50, the condition is referred to as age-related macular degeneration.

In some people, Macular Degeneration advances at a slow enough pace that vision loss does not occur for a very long time. In others, the progression of the disease moves quick and my lead to loss of vision in one or both eyes. Although there are some known risk factors macular degeneration there is no clear cause. The disease usually occurs in people who are age 50 and older. As people age, their risk increases. However, research is showing that there might also be a genetic connection, along with other factors that could increase your risk. These include:

1. Research is showing that smoking increases the risk of macular degeneration at a rate of two times.
2. Race is also a factor. Caucasians are much more likely to get macular degeneration than people of African descent.
3. People with a family history of macular degeneration are at a higher risk.
4. Lifestyle choices, like smoking, are linked to macular degeneration. Healthy living will help your health overall, but might also contribute to the prevention of eye disease. This is due to the fact that high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity, and a diet lacking in dark green leafy vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with the disease.

For age-related macular degeneration, you should see an opthalmologists who specialises in eye care and surgery. The early and intermediate stages of macular degeneration usual begin without symptoms, so your best bet it to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam done regularly—particularly as you get closer to 50. It is generally recommended that people older than 45 years have a complete eye examination and then do a follow up every two years.

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