alarm-ringing ambulance angle2 archive arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up at-sign baby baby2 bag binoculars book-open book2 bookmark2 bubble calendar-check calendar-empty camera2 cart chart-growth check chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up circle-minus circle city clapboard-play clipboard-empty clipboard-text clock clock2 cloud-download cloud-windy cloud clubs cog cross crown cube youtube diamond4 diamonds drop-crossed drop2 earth ellipsis envelope-open envelope exclamation eye-dropper eye facebook file-empty fire flag2 flare foursquare gift glasses google graph hammer-wrench heart-pulse heart home instagram joystick lamp layers lifebuoy link linkedin list lock magic-wand map-marker map medal-empty menu microscope minus moon mustache-glasses paper-plane paperclip papers pen pencil pie-chart pinterest plus-circle plus power pushpin question rain reading receipt recycle reminder sad shield-check smartphone smile soccer spades speed-medium spotlights star-empty star-half star store sun-glasses sun tag telephone thumbs-down thumbs-up tree tumblr twitter user users wheelchair write yelp youtube

If Your Parent Had Macular Degeneration, Does That Mean You Will Too?

When a physician or doctor asks you if you have a family history of health conditions like cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer, it’s not because they’re being nosy. It’s because genetics plays a role in your chances of developing many health conditions, including eye diseases like macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is a progressive and chronic disease that gradually destroys central vision due to deterioration of the macula, which a small central portion of your retina made of millions of light-sensing cells. When the macula doesn’t function fully, your central vision appears blurry, darkened, or distorted. This can make activities like reading, cooking, and driving not only difficult, but dangerous given the situation.

The disease is commonly associated with aging, but macular degeneration has also been linked to genetics. If you have a family history of macular degeneration, you have a higher risk for developing it as well. Factors that increase your risk of developing macular degeneration include:

  • Being over the age of 50
  • Having a family history of macular degeneration
  • Having cardiovascular disease
  • Eating foods high in saturated fat
  • Having high cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • Being Caucasian

Types & Treatments

Because the disease is so commonly associated with aging, it’s also known as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. There are two forms of AMD: “dry,” which is the most common, and “wet.”

While eye vitamins can slow the progression of dry AMD, that is the only treatment that is known for dry macular degeneration. Wet AMD, while less common, can be treated with laser procedures. Genetic testing is now available to help identify those most likely to develop wet AMD.

Regardless of the type of AMD, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk and progression of the disease including:

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Control cholesterol
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Take eye vitamins
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV light from the sun
  • Get yearly eye examinations

There are no early symptoms of AMD, which means it often goes undetected until vision loss begins to occur if you’re not having regular eye exams. Over time, blurry patches or dark spots begin to appear in your central vision, or objects may appear darker or distorted.

The key to treating any eye disease—genetic or not—is early diagnosis and treatment. Your eye doctor can detect the onset of macular degeneration, as well as other eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy. Don’t wait until you start experiencing vision problems to have a comprehensive eye examination.

Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has the experience and equipment necessary to diagnose and often treat eye diseases like macular degeneration, as well as many others, at our office in Knoxville. Our eye care professionals are dedicated to providing exceptional personal service to each person who walks through our door. Call us at (865) 246-1500 or request an appointment online.