What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is presently considered an incurable eye disease, and is the leading cause of vision loss – it affects more people than glaucoma and cataracts combined. Macular degeneration affects over 10 million Americans.

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Macular Degeneration

The macula is the central and most sensitive area of the part of the eye that “sees.” In a healthy eye, the macula records detailed images and sends them up the optic nerve to the brain, so they can be recorded as “sight.” As the macula deteriorates, the quality of these images is affected. At first, there may be little to no change in sight. But as the disease progresses, central vision may become blurry or wavy, and eventually central vision may be completely lost, leaving the patient with only their peripheral vision. At these advanced stages, patients may be considered legally blind.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two basic types of macular degeneration: “wet,” or exudative, which affects approximately 10-15% of patients, and the far more common type which is “dry,” or atrophic, which affects 85-90%.

There is also a third type which is much less common and occurs in children, called Stargardt disease.

Wet (exudative) Macular Degeneration

In this type, abnormal blood vessels known as CNV (choroidal neovascularization) grow under the macula and retina. After a while, the new blood vessels can bleed or leak fluid, causing a bulge which lifts the macula from its normally flat position. For people with “wet” macular degeneration, this is the cause of their distorted or lost central vision. In these cases, vision loss can be rapid and severe.

Dry (atrophic) Macular Degeneration

In this type, small yellow deposits known as drusen form under the macula. This leads to a thinning and drying of the macula in the areas where the drusen are present. This causes the macula to lose its function, and the patient to lose his or her central vision.

An interesting fact: nearly all people over the age of 50 have at least one small drusen in one or both eyes. However, only eyes with large drusen are at risk for “dry” macular degeneration.

This type of macular degeneration is much more common than the “wet” type, and progresses much more slowly. In some cases, people with the “dry” type can develop the “wet” type over time.

Stargardt Disease

This type of macular degeneration is passed down genetically from the parents. It develops in children ages 6-20. “Stargardt Disease is the result of a gene called ABCA4 and is usually a recessive trait. When both parents carry the ABCA4 mutation, there is a 25 percent chance their children will have Stargardt disease.”

What happens in Stargardt disease is that flecks of waste material build up in the nutritional support layer (RPE) for the rods and cones of the retina, causing all three to break down and impair vision.

Stages of Macular Degeneration

There are three stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Early AMD

Most patients do not experience vision loss at this stage. This highlights the need for regular eye exams, so that onset can be detected by your ophthalmologist. In the early stage, AMD is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen (yellow deposits beneath the retina.)

Intermediate AMD

At this stage there may be some vision loss in some patients; others still may not notice any symptoms. A comprehensive eye exam with specific tests will look for larger drusen and/or pigment changes.

Late AMD

Vision becomes noticeably impaired at this stage.

Macular Degeneration Risk Factors

The most important risk factors for macular degeneration are:


The largest risk factor for AMD is age. Those who are 55 or older are most likely to experience AMD, and your risk factor increases as you age.


If you have a family history of AMD, you are at a higher risk. For Stargardt disease, you are at risk if both your parents carry a recessive gene.


Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD than African-Americans and Latinos.


Smoking Cigarettes doubles (!) your risk of developing AMD.


There is currently no known cure for AMD, but there are things you can do to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. Staying healthy will reduce your risk of developing AMD and might even slow the disease’s progression once it has developed. Don’t smoke, get enough exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light.

Read about some promising new treatments for AMD here.

Orange County LASIK

Since 1982, our optometrists and ophthalmologists have delivered a premier Orange County LASIK center. Dr. Gosheh has authorized several books on high definition LASIK and custom cataracts surgery. Email your info requests to or call us at (866)997-2020 (LASIK) or (888)439-6565 (Cataracts) for a free consultation!

How Much of Life Affects Your Vision?

If you are seeking an Orange County Lasik center, eye surgery, cataract surgery, or are even just starting to think you may need eye glasses for the first time, you might be wondering what you can do in your daily life to keep your eyes healthy. After all, you want to maintain your vision at its best, right? It turns out that some eye health factors are more important than others. While some are biologically inherited and out of your control like genetics, many can be managed by good decision-making and a healthy lifestyle. Although we cannot always prevent worsening vision as we age, we can combat it with proper knowledge of the factors that affect our eyesight. Read on to find out what parts of your life are affecting your vision the most.

For more information about the top Orange County Lasik center and how Lasik surgery can benefit you, contact Advanced Eye Medical.

1. Genes

We all inherit our genetic makeup from our parents. In our genes are biological codes that predict factors like our hair and eye color, our height and metabolism rate, and the diseases that we will be susceptible to developing during our lifetimes. Some of the diseases that affect eyesight which can be inherited genetically include glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. The only way to predict your chances of developing these eye problems is to have your family’s medical history checked. The good news is, studies show that making proactive, health-related decisions can potentially override your genes, and even change your genetic makeup so that your children will be less susceptible to some maladies.

2. Age

Aging is, of course, a factor in nearly all bodily processes. After our mid-twenties, our bodies begin a deterioration process which goes on for decades, and we slowly lose the strength we once had as teenagers. Even those who in their youth enjoyed 20/20 vision cannot count on that perfect vision continuing into their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. We begin to wear glasses and pursue alternative treatment options. Beginning in our 50s and 60s, proteins may start to clump together within the corneal lens, shrouding our vision. These are known as cataracts. Other common age-related problems are loss of focus-ability, nearsightedness, and farsightedness.

3. Stress

The current emphasis on mindfulness, including meditation, yoga, and other de-stressing practices, shows just how badly our society needs to unwind. It has been shown over and over again that stress causes many kinds of health problems in the body, and this includes problems with eyesight. Aside from a generalized decline in eyesight, there are three known stressors that can cause temporary declines in vision. They are:

Tiredness: Fatigue makes your whole body start to shut down, and when you are too tired your eyes can get blurry.

Muscle tension: If you tire your eyes out from reading, staring at the computer, or watching too much tv, you may also experience blurry vision.

Boosts in adrenaline: Increases in adrenaline can have a dramatic effect on eyesight. You may experience anything from simple blurriness to tunnel vision all the way to visual hallucinations.

4. Diet

The food we choose to put in our body is considered to be the number one determinant of overall health. Our bodies need all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function properly. Without them, we invite disease. “If you want to have good vision, consume foods high in beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and antioxidants.”

5. Exercise

Most people don’t sit around doing eye exercises, and that’s not what we’re talking about. We mean for you to get out there and walk, swim, take a cardio class, lift weights, or do whatever physical activity suits your body, your lifestyle, and your preference best. Exercising regularly helps prevent diseases which can cause a serious decline in vision, such as diabetes (which is usually linked to obesity.) Like maintaining a healthy diet, exercise keeps your body healthy. It also allows you to keep in a healthy weight range and avoid the onset of disease.

6. Direct Damage

This doesn’t necessarily mean injury, though it can. Most loss of vision due to direct damage occurs by too much exposure to the sun. Believe it or not, exposing your eyes to the sun without UVA/UVB protective sunglasses for too long can cause vision loss over a relatively brief period. The overexposure to ultraviolet rays can also lead to glaucoma, cataracts, and other disorders. The moral of the story: buy a good pair of sunglasses, and wear them.

Orange County Lasik

Dr. Ghosheh at Advanced Eye Medical and his team of optometrists and ophthalmologists deliver the clearer vision you expect from the premier Orange County Lasik Center. Call 866-997-2020 (Lasik) or 888-439-6565 (Cataract and others) for a FREE consultation today!