Macular Degeneration

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macular degeneration

As macular degeneration advances, a distorted, dark or empty area often appears in the center of vision.

Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss among people over age 50. It results from changes to the macula, a portion of the retina, which is located on the inside back layer of the eye. The macula is responsible for clear, sharp vision and is many times more sensitive than the rest of the retina. Without a healthy macula, seeing detail or vivid color is not possible.

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration. In the dry type, the tissue of the macula becomes this and stops functioning properly. This type is thought to occur as part of the aging process of the eye in some people. There is currently no treatment available for this slowly progressive condition.

In the wet form which is less common, fluids from newly formed blood vessels leak under the macula and cause significant vision loss. This condition can sometimes be treated with laser therapy, but early detection and prompt treatment is vital in limiting damage.

Some symptoms of macular degeneration are:

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

These symptoms may also indicate other eye health problems, so if you are experiencing any of these, you should contact your doctor of optometry as soon as possible.

In a comprehensive eye examination, your doctor will perform a variety of tests to determine if you have macular degeneration or other eye conditions.

Unfortunately, there is no way to restore central vision lost to macular degeneration. However, since macular degeneration does not affect side vision, low vision aids such as special telescopic and microscopic lenses, magnifying glasses and electronic magnifiers for close work, can be prescribed to help make the most of remaining vision. With adaptation, a person can often cope well and continue to do most things he or she is accustomed to doing.

Remember! Early detection of macular degeneration is the most important factor in determining if you can be treated effectively. Use the simple vision check on the back of this sheet and maintain a regular schedule of optometric examination to help protect your vision.

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