Many researchers have made interesting proposals as to the actual cause of age related macular degeneration (ARMD). These theories suggest that light that enters the eye and is focused on the macula of the retina causes significant free-radical production in the outer aspect of these photoreceptors. Again if anti-oxidants are not available to readily neutralize these free radicals, the free radicals can cause damage to the photoreceptors. This form of oxidative stress has also been shown to create damage to the high concentration of poly saturated fats (PUFAS) in the outer retina and photo receptors.
Just like the oxidation damage to the LDL cholesterol, the oxidized and damaged PUFA’s cause the formation of lipofuscin – a group of lipid/protein products that are collected within the retinal pigment epithelium. Lipofuscin creates even more oxidative damage to the retina and researches believe it is actually the cause of damage to and destruction of these sensitive photoreceptors.
These toxic substances can accumulate in the pigment epithelium cells and are eventually excreted in the form of DRUSEN. Drusen formation is one of the first indications to an ophthalmologist that a patient is developing ARMD. As these drusen accumulate between the pigment cells and the photoreceptor cells can no longer function, causing an area of blindness.