December 16, 2010Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. Due to aging baby-boomers, increased life-spans and heightened awareness of the disorder, the number of people affected is expected to almost double by 2020. Fortunately, we've learned a lot about what causes macular degeneration and some important preventative measures that can save your sight! Macular degeneration is caused when part of the retina - the interior layer of the eye that transmits light signals to the brain via the optic nerve - deteriorates. The macula is the central portion of the retina that enables detailed and color vision, the vision we use to read, thread a needle, write, even recognize faces. It is a highly specialized part of the nervous system and the eye where the photoreceptors that react to light stimulus and the neurons that interpret and transmit these signals are precisely organized and densely compacted. It is the macula that allows humans to see 20/20, or an eagle to spot a small rodent on the ground hundreds of feet below. There are specific factors that raise your chances of developing macular degeneration. Some risks are presented by circumstances outside of our control, such as aging, family history and genetics. However there are many risks that are directly caused by lifestyle, and paying attention to them can not only greatly reduce the odds of developing macular degeneration. What can you do?
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