How Stem Cells Help With Macular Degeneration

How Stem Cells Help With Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of loss of vision.  It even outranks cataracts and glaucoma.  Macular degeneration is a common disease, especially as people age.  However, it is currently considered incurable.  Macular degeneration leads to unclear central vision, which is necessary for everyday tasks such as driving and reading. There is treatment available for macular degeneration.  However, it only helps to slow vision loss; it does not completely prevent it.  Fortunately, more research into stem cell therapy has shown that stem cells may be viable in helping those who suffer from macular degeneration keep their eyesight in the future.

The macula is the part of the eye that is responsible for focusing central vision.  It collects detailed images at the very center of a person’s vision and sends these images to the brain, which allows humans to discern what they see correctly.  What starts as blurry or wavy vision eventually progresses to complete loss of central vision is macular degeneration is left untreated.  In most cases, peripheral vision is not lost.  However, because it is not as clear as central vision, macular degeneration patients end up losing the ability to drive or read a book.

There are three main stages of macular degeneration: early, intermediate, and late.  In early macular degeneration, vision is typically normal.  Regular visits to the eye doctor can help identify macular degeneration in this stage and allow treatment to begin as soon as possible.  During intermediate stages, some vision loss may be present, but it can still go unnoticed.  Vision loss becomes unavoidable during late-stage macular degeneration when it is often too late for treatment to make a difference.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot known about the causes of macular degeneration, and it is, therefore, very difficult to treat.  The most significant risk factor is age, as the disease is seen primarily in older populations.  However, it is believed that smoking, genetics, and race play some kind of role in developing the disease.  Currently, the main treatments once macular degeneration is diagnosed include a change of lifestyle such as diet and exercise and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays.  Some medications can be used.  However, there is no known treatment for the disease.  Fortunately, stem cell therapy has shown a lot of promise in stopping the progression of macular degeneration and potentially reversing the effects of the disease.

Macular degeneration can be a scary diagnosis for those who are later in life.  While there is a lot of research dedicated to a better understanding of macular degeneration, there still is no cure.  Prevention early in life is the way to go.  By eating healthy, exercising, and protecting your eyes from UV light, you can greatly lessen your chances of developing macular degeneration.  However, if you have been diagnosed with the disease, research on stem cell therapy for those with macular degeneration has provided a significant amount of hope that an effective treatment or cure maybe just on the horizon.  There will no doubt be plenty of more research in the future.

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