Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration 2017-08-29T07:37:22+00:00
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Overview : What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although macular degeneration is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability.

There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration:

Dry form : The “dry” form of macular degeneration is characterized by the presence of yellow deposits, called drusen, in the macula. A few small drusen may not cause changes in vision; however, as they grow in size and increase in number, they may lead to a dimming or distortion of vision that people find most noticeable when they read. In more advanced stages of dry macular degeneration, there is also a thinning of the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula leading to atrophy, or tissue death. In the atrophic form of dry macular degeneration, patients may have blind spots in the center of their vision. In the advanced stages, patients lose central vision.

The “wet” form of macular degeneration is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macula. This is called choroidal neovascularization. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing distortion of vision that makes straight lines look wavy, as well as blind spots and loss of central vision. These abnormal blood vessels eventually scar, leading to permanent loss of central vision.

Most patients with macular degeneration have the dry form of the disease and will not lose central vision. However, the dry form of macular degeneration can lead to the wet form. Although only about 10% of people with macular degeneration develop the wet form, they make up the majority of those who experience serious vision loss from the disease.

It is very important for people with macular degeneration to monitor their eyesight carefully and see their eye doctor on a regular basis.

What Are the Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration?

As the name suggests, age-related macular degeneration is more common in older adults. In fact, it is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 60.

Macular degeneration may be hereditary, meaning it can be passed on from parents to children. If someone in your family has or had the condition you may be at higher risk for developing macular degeneration. Talk to your eye doctor about your individual risk.

Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and being caucasian are also risk factors for macular degeneration.

People rarely lose all of their vision from age-related macular degeneration. They may have poor central vision, but they are still able to perform many normal daily activities.

The wet form of macular degeneration is a leading cause of irreversible legal blindness. When both eyes are affected, you may experience a significant decrease in your quality of life.

The dry form of age-related macular degeneration is much more common and tends to progress more slowly, allowing you to keep most of your vision.

Unfortunately, even after macular degeneration treatment, the condition can recur. Because of this, individuals with macular degeneration must test their own vision regularly and follow the recommendations of their ophthalmologist. Proper and timely treatment, however, cannot only slow the rate of vision loss but often improve vision.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Overview : What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although macular degeneration is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability.