Can You Get Macular Degeneration in Your Twenties?

Posted by: Eye Health Northwest in Macular Degeneration on September 6, 2023

Eye problems that lead to loss of sight are concerning at any age. Macular degeneration is a condition typically associated with older adults.

The age-related form, known as AMD, tends to affect individuals over the age of sixty. Younger adults can experience macular degeneration; however, the causes are entirely different.

Keep reading to learn about macular degeneration, how it affects your vision health, and how you can get this eye condition earlier in life!

What is Macular Degeneration? 

The macula, a portion of the retina just above the optic nerve, is what enables you to see clearly in your direct line of sight. Macular degeneration causes blurred or reduced central vision. 

However, side vision, also known as peripheral vision, is typically not affected.

What is AMD?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is most common in adults over sixty and is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in those over sixty-five. As you age, the macula can thin, losing cells essential to your vision. 

Dry macular degeneration is regarded as an early-stage disease. As it worsens, it can develop into wet macular degeneration. 

Only ten percent of dry macular degeneration cases progress to late-stage disease. However, wet macular degeneration accounts for ninety percent of the blindness caused by all cases of this condition.

What is Juvenile Macular Degeneration?

Juvenile macular degeneration, also called juvenile macular dystrophy, affects children and young adults. They are hereditary eye disorders passed down from the parents. 

The most common one is Stargardt disease. Others include Best disease and juvenile retinoschisis. All forms of juvenile macular degeneration are rare, with the latter two much rarer that Stargardt disease.

Symptoms of juvenile macular degeneration can first appear during the years of childhood or adolescence and are similar regardless of the disease. While Best’s disease develops slowly, with patients having near-normal vision well into adulthood, those with Stargardt disease often end up with 20/200 vision, which is defined as legally blind.

Juvenile retinoschisis not only affects central vision but can also impact side vision. For patients with Juvenile retinoschisis, half lose their peripheral vision. 

Genes and Juvenile Macular Degeneration

Because juvenile macular degeneration is a genetic disorder passed down from parents, it is far less common than AMD. Stargardt disease is linked to a recessive gene, meaning that a child must inherit genes from both parents for the condition to be expressed. 

Best’s disease is a dominant gene, so a child only has to inherit the gene from one parent for the disease to develop. Juvenile retinoschisis is a genetic mutation linked to the X chromosome and predominantly affects males who inherit this chromosome from their mothers, as fathers contribute the Y chromosome.

What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

Whether macular degeneration is age-related or the juvenile form, the symptoms are similar:

  • Blurry or blind spot in central vision in one or both eyes
  • Visual distortions such as straight lines bending
  • Words on the page or screen look blurry

While there is no cure for juvenile macular degeneration, there are clinical trials using gene therapies to treat the condition. Wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV rays is recommended for those with juvenile macular degeneration and those wanting to preserve their sight.

Do you want to learn more about macular degeneration? Schedule an appointment at EyeHealth Northwest in Portland, OR, today!


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Our Locations

Aloha
18345 SW Alexander St,
Suite A
Aloha, OR 97003
(503) 642-2505 see more
Glisan
6701 NE Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 255-2291 see more
Gresham
24601 SE Stark St.
Suite 245
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 255-2291 see more
Hillsboro
6111 NE Cornell Rd
Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 846-9400 see more
Lake Oswego
9 Monroe Parkway, Suite 160
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
(503) 636-2551 see more
Milwaukie
11086 SE Oak St
Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 656-4221 see more
Mt. Tabor
5935 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97206
503 777-5546 see more
Newberg
2318 Portland Rd, Suite 300
Newberg, OR 97132
(503) 538-1341 see more
North Portland
3246 N. Lombard St.
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 285-1671 see more
Northwest Portland
1955 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2020 see more
Oregon City
1306 Division St
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 656-4221 see more
Peterkort
9555 SW Barnes Rd.
#100 (1rst floor)
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 227-2020 see more
Providence Portland
5050 NE Hoyt St., Suite 445
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 231-0166 see more
Providence St. Vincent
9135 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 961
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 292-0848 see more
Southeast Portland
10819 SE Stark St,
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 255-2291 see more
Sunnyside
12050 SE Stevens Rd, Suite 100
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(503) 783-3300 see more
Tigard
15298 SW Royalty Parkway
Tigard OR 97224
(503) 227-2020 see more
Wilsonville
29250 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(503) 582-0000 see more
Westside Surgery Center
13240 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 639-6571 see more
EyeHealth Eastside Surgery and Laser Center
12050 SE Stevens Rd.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(971) 206-6100 see more

Our Locations

Aloha
18345 SW Alexander St,
Suite A
Aloha, OR 97003
(503) 642-2505 see more
Glisan
6701 NE Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 255-2291 see more
Gresham
24601 SE Stark St.
Suite 245
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 255-2291 see more
Hillsboro
6111 NE Cornell Rd
Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 846-9400 see more
Lake Oswego
9 Monroe Parkway, Suite 160
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
(503) 636-2551 see more
Milwaukie
11086 SE Oak St
Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 656-4221 see more
Mt. Tabor
5935 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97206
503 777-5546 see more
Newberg
2318 Portland Rd, Suite 300
Newberg, OR 97132
(503) 538-1341 see more
North Portland
3246 N. Lombard St.
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 285-1671 see more
Northwest Portland
1955 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2020 see more
Oregon City
1306 Division St
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 656-4221 see more
Peterkort
9555 SW Barnes Rd.
#100 (1rst floor)
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 227-2020 see more
Providence Portland
5050 NE Hoyt St., Suite 445
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 231-0166 see more
Providence St. Vincent
9135 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 961
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 292-0848 see more
Southeast Portland
10819 SE Stark St,
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 255-2291 see more
Sunnyside
12050 SE Stevens Rd, Suite 100
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(503) 783-3300 see more
Tigard
15298 SW Royalty Parkway
Tigard OR 97224
(503) 227-2020 see more
Wilsonville
29250 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(503) 582-0000 see more
Surgery Centers

Westside Surgery Center

13240 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 639-6571 see more

EyeHealth Eastside Surgery and Laser Center

12050 SE Stevens Rd.
Happy Valley, OR 97086
(971) 206-6100 see more