Macular Degeneration

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that occurs when there are changes to central vision or the macula.  The macula is a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye and is used to focus on details.  Macular degeneration reduces central vision and makes seeing objects and details straight ahead difficult or impossible.  AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among people over the age of 50.

What causes macular degeneration?

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration.

In the “dry” type, the tissue of the macula gradually becomes thin, scars, and stops functioning properly.

“Wet”, or exudative macular degeneration is less common and results when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula and blurs central vision.  Vision loss from the “wet” form can be rapid and severe.

What are signs and symptoms of macular degeneration?

  • Gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly centrally
  • Objects appear to be distorted in shape and straight lines appear wavy or crooked
  • Loss of clear color vision
  • A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision

What are risk factors for developing macular degeneration?

  • Age (patients over 50 have a greater chance of developing the condition)
  • Family History of macular degeneration
  • Low macular pigment
  • Cigarette smoking (current or prior)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Light colored eyes
  • Caucasian
  • Females
  • Overweight

How is macular degeneration diagnosed?

The signs and symptoms of macular degeneration can also indicate other eye health problems, so if you experience any of them, you should contact your doctor of optometry immediately.  In a thorough eye exam, your optometrist can perform a variety of tests to determine if you have macular degeneration or other eye health problems.

How is macular degeneration treated?

There is no cure for “dry” macular degeneration; nor can central vision lost to macular degeneration be restored.  That being said, the medical community has researched and discovered a link between nutrition and the progression of “dry” macular degeneration.  There are nutritional supplements that may be beneficial.  Click here for more information concerning ocular nutrition and supplemental.