DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am 52 and have been diagnosed with dry macular degeneration. What could cause this in a person my age?
ANSWER: No one knows exactly what causes macular degeneration, an eye disease that can lead to loss of sight in the center of your field of vision. But the risk for macular degeneration goes up as you get older. Other factors play a role, too. A family history of the disease, race, lifestyle choices such as smoking and diet, and underlying medical conditions can all increase the likelihood of developing macular degeneration.
The macula is the part of your eye that allows you to see fine details in your vision. You need it for tasks such as driving, reading and recognizing faces. The macula is located in the center of your retina — the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball.