Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is damage to or breakdown of the macula of the eye. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular degeneration makes close work like threading a needle or reading a book, difficult or impossible. When the macula doesn't function correctly, we experience blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision. Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it does not affect the eye's side or peripheral vision. For example, you could see a clock but not be able to tell what time it is. Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. Most people continue to have some useful vision and are able to take care of themselves.

There are two forms of macular degeneration:

The Dry Type

This is the most common form. In this type of macular degeneration, the delicate tissues of the macula become thinned and cease to function properly.

The Wet Type

This is less common, but is typically more damaging. The wet type of macular degeneration is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the macula. The abnormal blood vessels tend to hemorrhage or leak, with the result being the formation of scar tissue if left untreated. In some instances, the dry type of macular degeneration can turn into the wet type.

Macular degeneration develops differently in each person. Because it will affect different regions of the macula from person to person, the symptoms tend to vary. Macular degeneration causes a progressive loss of central sight, however, it does not cause total blindness. Peripheral vision is unaffected allowing a certain amount of mobility in normal surroundings. If left untreated, the wet type of macular degeneration may progress rapidly.

Symptoms:

  1. The loss of the ability to see objects clearly
  2. Vision that is noticeably distorted
  3. Straight lines appear wavy
  4. Objects may appear as the wrong shape or size
  5. The loss of clear, correct colors
  6. Difficulty reading or seeing objects up close
  7. A dark, empty area in the center of vision

Example:

Dry_Macular01 Wet_Macular01