Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in those over 50 years old and beyond in the developed world, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

All adults 50 years and older should have an eye check once a year involving dilation of the eye, to examine if there is macular degeneration, and not just the ordinary vision loss caused by aging.

“The symptoms of age-related macular degeneration develop as people get older, and many times people think the symptoms are due to a cataract or are an inevitable part of aging, so they don’t go to get a dilated eye examination,” said Dr. Ingrid Scott, professor of ophthalmology at Penn State College of Medicine.

The condition is not just associated with aging, but also with smoking, exposure to sunlight, and a diet not abundant in leafy green vegetables. Heredity is also a factor in the development of macular degeneration.

In the United States there are about 1.7 million people 40 years old and older who have developed age-related macular degeneration.

Other risk factors include being Caucasian, having high blood pressure, and/or having high cholesterol.

People who desire to protect their precious eyesight should take care to get regular exercise, eat a good diet full of leafy green vegies and fish, and have their eyes checked at least once a year. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, avoiding smoking and protecting your eyes from the sun can also help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

© 2017 DRY HARBOR