Macular degeneration is a disorder that affects the macula (the central part of the retina) causing a decrease in visual acuity and possible loss of central vision.
The macula is the part of the retina that allows the eye to see fine details at the center of the field of vision. Breakdown of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) interferes with the metabolism of the retina, causing thinning of the retina, which is the “dry” phase of macular degeneration. This may allow harmful elements from the blood to damage and scar the retina, which is the “wet” phase of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration results in the loss of central vision only – peripheral fields are always maintained, and complete blindness never occurs from this disease. The risk increases with each decade over age 50 to almost 15% by the age of 75, and other risk factors are family history, cigarette smoking, and being white.
The good news is that your diet and lifestyle play a big role in your risk for macular degeneration. Learn more about the foods and nutrients that protect vision in our Eye Health and Diet center.