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Is Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

Is Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

Close to 2 million adults in the United States live with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), making it the leading cause of vision loss. 

Also known simply as macular degeneration, this progressive disease can come on slowly, making it difficult to realize you have it. Early detection is important, however, as is knowing your personal risk factors. 

Dr. Melanie FrogozoDr. Swati Kumar, and their expert team at Alamo Eye Care in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, diagnose and treat macular degeneration to help preserve your vision and enhance your quality of life.

Here’s a closer look at macular degeneration, including the potential genetic link.

AMD types and symptoms

There are two types of macular degeneration, both of which affect your central vision. Dry AMD accounts for about 80% of cases. And while wet AMD is less common, it’s also more serious.

When you have dry AMD, the center of your retina grows thinner with age. Meanwhile, tiny protein clumps called drusen emerge. Wet AMD causes abnormal blood vessels to grow below your retinas. These blood vessels may leak fluids, such as blood, bringing on scarring.

Among the symptoms of AMD are:

While both forms cause similar symptoms, vision loss from wet AMD tends to come on faster.

Heredity and other risk factors 

Most anyone can develop macular degeneration, but your chances are higher if you carry excess weight overall or around your belly or have unmanaged high blood pressure or heart disease. 

Spending a good deal of time in the sun without eye protection may also contribute. And, of course, increasing age plays a role.

A family history of AMD also raises your risk. Gene variations in two chromosomes in particular have been linked with macular degeneration, including:

In addition to making AMD more likely, these gene variations are associated with more severe progression of the disease. For these reasons, coming in for routine eye exams is especially important if members of your family have been diagnosed with macular degeneration. 

Treatment for AMD

While there’s no known cure for macular degeneration, treatment may slow it down and preserve your eyesight. Depending on the type you have, we may recommend intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications or specialized nutritional supplements. 

Eye-friendly nutrients that may help, for example, include vitamins C and E, lutein, zinc, and zeaxanthin. Your provider can help determine your best course of action. 

To learn more about AMD or to get the care you need, call Alamo Eye Care at 210-428-6696 (San Antonio) or 210-403-9050 (Austin) today. You can also text the team at 210-403-9050 or send us a message through our website any time. 

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