What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of impaired reading or detailed vision. The center portion of the retina, (the macula) breaks down, and loss of vision occurs. This condition causes distortion in the central field of vision; peripheral (side) vision is not damaged.
Who gets Macular Degeneration
Most common in people over 60 years old, macular degeneration can occur as young as 40. This condition is the most common cause of vision loss in seniors, and as life expectancy increases, so does the occurrence of this condition.
Macular degeneration is most often a result of the normal aging process. As we age, retinal tissue breaks down, and gradual deterioration causes loss of function of the macula.
In a small percentage of cases, macular degeneration is compounded by the leakage of blood vessels that nourish the retina. Scar tissue and new abnormal vessels grow. Leakage from these new vessels is common, causing blurred and distorted vision. This dense scar tissue formation can have severe effects on the central vision.
Injury or some types of infection may also cause macular degeneration. In addition, genetics may play a role, as the condition may also be hereditary.
The most obvious symptom of macular degeneration is distorted central vision.
Trouble with ordinary activities such as reading, driving, etc. may also be noticed.
Blurry words on a written page, distortion of lines, or dark areas in the center of vision are all symptoms to be aware of.
Macular degeneration may also cause a fading of color vision. Side vision is not affected, so there is never a total loss of sight. This condition often causes the good eye to compensate for the bad eye, if only one eye is involved. In turn, this compensation often disguises the symptoms of the disease.
There is no cure for this condition. Laser treatment may act to slow the progression of the disease and may be used to seal leaky blood vessels, and destroy abnormal vessels, lessening the scarring that will damage central vision.