What is Macular Degeneration and Can You Prevent It?

Posted: 6/28/2016 8:21 AM by Interim HealthCare
While there are many potential causes for low vision among elderly adults, one of the most common is a condition called macular degeneration. This disease is a leading cause of the loss of vision among those older adults over the age of 50 and can develop so gradually that the senior is not even aware of the changes in their vision until they have become severe. This condition does not lead to complete blindness, but it can contribute to vision loss so marked that it interferes with your aging loved one's ability to manage basic daily tasks.

Though everyone is at risk of developing macular degeneration, there are some influences that increase this risk. These include:

Smoking. Studies have indicated that the use of tobacco puts your aging parent at twice the risk of developing macular degeneration.

Ethnicity. Caucasians are more likely to develop macular degeneration than other ethnicities.

Family history. If your aging parent has a family history of this condition, they are at greater risk of developing the condition. It is very important to note that because there are other factors that influence the risk of a person developing macular degeneration there is no genetic testing, screening, or other procedure that can be used to accurately predict if a person will or will not develop this condition. If your aging parent mentions an offer for such a test, it is important to discourage them from going along with it because this is a scam.

Health complications. Certain health concerns can make it more likely that your aging parent will develop macular degeneration. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and overall poor health. Managing these conditions and getting a healthy diet can help to reduce the chances of developing this condition.

Though there are no screenings or tests that can predict whether a person will develop macular degeneration, there are tests that can detect whether your parent has it and how far they have progressed into the condition. The reality is that most people will not even notice the symptoms when they are in the early to moderate stages of the disease. This means that unless they receive a diagnosis based on a test performed by their eye health professional they will not be aware of the condition and will not be able to pursue treatment and management. Ensure that your elderly parent visits their eye doctor regularly to receive the proper tests and screenings that could detect the condition. These can include a dilated eye exam, optical coherence tomography, amsler grid, and a visual acuity test.

If your parent receives a diagnosis of macular degeneration, be sure to find out at what stage your parent currently is, their prognosis, and what treatments are available. This can help you to support your parent in selecting the treatment and management that is right for them.
If you have noticed new or worsened vision symptoms in your aging parent, it may be time to consider elder care. An elderly home care services provider can provide your parent with customized care and support to help them maintain living safely and independently at home.

 If you or someone you love is in need of elder care please contact Interim HealthCare today!