Macular degeneration is a disease that affects a person’s central vision and is the most common cause of severe loss of eyesight among people ages 60 and older. Only the center of vision is affected with this disease. People rarely go completely blind from it. However, this disease can make it difficult to read, drive, or do other daily activities that need fine, central vision.
Macular degeneration happens when the macula begins to break down. The macula is located in the center of the retina and provides us with sight in the center of our field of vision. With less of the macula working, central vision begins to get worse.
The 2 primary types of macular degeneration have different causes:
Possible risk factors are:
The following are the most common symptoms, however, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The presence of drusen, tiny yellow deposits in the retina, is one of the most common early signs of macular degeneration. It may mean the eye is at risk for developing more severe macular degeneration. These will be visible to your healthcare provider during an eye exam.
The symptoms of macular degeneration may look like other eye conditions. Talk with an eye care professional for diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and eye exam, your eye healthcare provider may do the following tests to diagnose macular degeneration:
Specific treatment will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:
Treatment for wet macular degeneration usually involves injections of medicines into the eye to stop the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. These injections are typically painless. It may also include one type of laser surgery in which a high-energy beam of light is aimed directly onto the leaking blood vessels to deter further leaking, although this is usually not necessary.
Currently, there is no treatment for dry macular degeneration. This does not, however, indicate that sight will automatically be lost. This is particularly true if the macular degeneration affects only one eye. Central vision may eventually be lost or reduced. Generally, the rate of loss is slow. There are nutritional treatment choices that may slow the progression of the disease.