Degenerative eye disease, also referred to as macular degeneration (AMD), is a progressive condition that affects millions of people from around the world. The disease attacks the eye’s macular region, which is what helps you have sharp, clear vision. While it doesn’t usually result in complete blindness, those with degenerative eye disease usually have low vision because of their condition.
Like most diseases, there are multiple causes for AMD. However, genetics do seem to be the leading cause of in the United States — and are responsible for more than half of those cases that are diagnosed. The disease itself doesn’t usually affect individuals until they are over the age of 50, but it can happen at an earlier age for some people too.
S ome causes of degenerative eye disease can include, but are not limited to:
People who have low vision because of degenerative eye disease or AMD have to go through a period of adjustment. For some, the vision loss is gradual, but for others the vision loss can be quick.
There are numerous devices and apps for low vision individuals. These are designed to help a person function better and perform everyday tasks. Some things patients can find include:
You can buy apps like VO Starter from Low Vision Technologies
Check out VO Starter and other similar apps and see how they can help you perform everyday tasks that your low vision is limiting.
Other common eye disorders are stargardt disease, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma and cataracts.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is actually a group of various diseases that are inherited and result in degeneration of the retina.
A steady decline in sight happens when the photoreceptor cells die off. Other related forms of RP are Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Usher syndrome, rod-cone disease, Refsum disease, and Leber’s congenital amaurosis.
Symptoms: In many cases, night and peripheral vision are affected first because the rods (outer part of the retina) deteriorate. This is why people most commonly associate night blindness with RP.
Central vision and color perception are also lost due to RP when the cones, which are the centrally located parts of the retina (which help with sharp central vision and color), deteriorate.
In most families, males are most affected by retinitis pigmentosa and it usually shows up in young adults. By 40, most RP patients are legally blind.
Usually, folks over 40 will experience glaucoma eye disease, although it sometimes shows up in younger people. Heredity, diabetes, lack of exercise, and hypertension are known risk factors.
Glaucoma results in blindness and low vision when the optic nerve is damaged. When the pressure inside the eye becomes too high, the photoreceptors are affected.
Symptoms: Unfortunately, there are no symptoms during the early onset of glaucoma. This is unfortunate because it’s irreversible and while over 4 million people have this degenerative eye disease in American alone, it’s estimated that half don’t know they’re suffering from it yet.
Prevention: Be sure to take an eye test annually so it’s caught early. Regular exercise is helpful as it lowers eye pressure and also helps bring more blood flow to the eye.
No matter the type of degenerative eye disease you or a loved one may be experiencing, there are many new and exciting technologies available to help ease your burdens.
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