The macula is the part of the retina, the nervous tissue of the eye, that receives light the most clearly. Since cone cells, one of the photoreceptor cells, are densely packed, they can receive light most accurately, so it is also the region that plays the most important role in the retina. Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula, which plays an important role, is degenerated and causes visual impairment.
It is known that macular degeneration is caused by several factors. Although the exact cause of the occurrence is not known, hypoxia occurs in the retina due to the accumulation of waste products with aging. It is known that blood or liquid that has been contaminated acts as a cause and causes deterioration of vision. Aging is the biggest cause of creating abnormal blood vessels with a risk of bleeding. has been known to affect
Macular degeneration, which is caused by various causes, is largely divided into dry and wet. Dryness is a stage in which yellow deposits called drusen appear under the retina, and most of them do not significantly affect vision. However, wet macular degeneration, which causes abnormal blood vessels, choroidal neovascularization, accounts for 10 to 20% of all macular degeneration and greatly affects visual acuity. And in the case of this habit, it is known that if left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
For this reason, macular degeneration ranks as the number one cause of blindness among the elderly over the age of 65 and is known as one of the three major blindness diseases along with glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. In addition, in recent years, the incidence rate has significantly increased among those in their 40s and 50s, who are relatively young compared to the elderly, due to westernized eating habits and increased usage of various IT devices, and it is reported that the incidence rate is increasing every year. . Now, let’s learn more about the main symptoms of macular degeneration, as well as information on treatment and prevention.
Main symptoms of macular degeneration
The symptoms that appear when macular degeneration occurs can be said to be symptoms of deformed objects that look bent. This deformation occurs after new blood vessels are formed under the retina in the macula. It is a symptom caused by the proliferation of blood vessels under the retina and bleeding caused by bending the retina, which should be flat. In addition to the central scotoma where the central area of vision is not visible, the symptoms of blurred and blurred vision are also the main symptoms that appear when macular degeneration occurs.
These major symptoms of macular degeneration do not cause much discomfort at first, but as macular degeneration progresses to a certain extent, various phenomena such as buildings, lanes, and bathroom tiles look bent and distorted. And if these symptoms are left unattended, it can cause damage to the visual cells. Once damaged, the visual cells cannot be restored, and the continuous destruction of the visual cells increases the risk of blindness. Therefore, if several of the symptoms mentioned above appear, it is important to proceed with appropriate examination and treatment through a prompt visit. In particular, as macular degeneration mainly occurs in people over the age of 50, it is important to have regular checkups every year during this period.
Treatment and prevention of macular degeneration
1. Early diagnosis and steady treatment
Macular degeneration is diagnosed by accurately measuring visual acuity and intraocular pressure to check the degree of visual acuity reduction, and performing various detailed tests such as slit lamp examination, optical coherence tomography, visual field examination, and fluorescein angiography. In the case of dry macular degeneration, in the case of dry macular degeneration according to the diagnosis result through various tests, antioxidant vitamins are taken to slow the progression of macular degeneration, and at the same time, various environmental factors that cause worsening of symptoms are minimized. In addition, as high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia are risk factors for macular degeneration, the process of treating these diseases is also performed in parallel. And in the case of habitual macular degeneration, a more aggressive treatment procedure to preserve vision is carried out. In order to prevent the progression of the disease and relieve symptoms, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor injection therapy, laser therapy, and drug therapy using Lucentis and Avastin are performed.
2. Avoid excessive sunlight exposure
When the eyes are exposed to strong ultraviolet rays, the retina is damaged by free radicals, which can worsen the occurrence and symptoms of macular degeneration. Therefore, it is important to reduce excessive sun exposure by wearing a hat or sunglasses when going out. In addition, strong light and blue light emitted by various IT devices such as smartphones and tablets are also known as major triggers for exacerbating the symptoms of macular degeneration, so it is important to properly control their use.
3. No smoking
Smoking cessation is important because it is known as a major risk factor that increases the incidence of macular degeneration by two to five times by lowering antioxidant factors and damaging the normal circulation of the choroid. In addition, excessive mental stress also causes aggravation of macular degeneration and is known to affect the development, so it is important to properly manage and relieve stress. In addition, regular aerobic exercise such as walking, biking, and jogging is known to increase blood circulation in the choroid and help prevent the progression to wet macular degeneration.
4. Intake of antioxidants and maintain a healthy diet
Since macular degeneration is known to be the cause of the deficiency of various antioxidants, it is recommended to consume green and yellow vegetables rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as blue-green fish and nuts on a regular basis. In addition, it is important to continuously consume lutein and zeaxanthin, which act as constituents of the macula and have a direct effect on vision health.
On the other hand, excessive consumption of animal fat, high-calorie foods, and foods high in cholesterol are factors that aggravate the symptoms of macular degeneration, so it is important to eat them properly.