What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Can you imagine slowly losing the ability to see? Most surveys from around the world have concluded that their vision is the sense they fear losing the most. We rely on this precious sense to engage in the world around us, to communicate and to react to events in front of us.
Unfortunately, there are 11 million in North America who suffer from a disease known as age-related macular degeneration, and 2 million of them have already lost their vision. Age-related macular degeneration is an incurable disease most commonly seen in people over the age of 50.
Age-related macular degeneration becomes increasingly common as we age. One in five North Americans over the age of 50 and one in four over the age of 65 will develop this disease in their lifetime. The number of people developing age-related macular degeneration will continue to rise, making it a critical health problem in the North of America.
What Causes Age-related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is caused by the degeneration of light-sensing cells in the eye, specifically in the part of the eye known as the retina. Normally, we are able to see because our eyes take in the light from the environment around us. The eyes then send this information, in the form of electrical pulses to our brain, allowing us to perceive the images that surround us. In order to function well, however, these light-sensing cells require support and nutrients from cells that keep the back of the cells healthy. These cells are called retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE cells).
In people who suffer from age-related macular degeneration, these RPE cells start to die, which means that the light-sensing cells no longer get the support and nutrients they need, which leads to a loss of vision.
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