What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is a condition that causes central vision loss. Central vision is what your eyes focus on when you look straight ahead. Macular Degeneration only affects central vision because it is caused by damage to the central part of the retina (called the macula). It does not affect side vision.

This is how a person with Macular Degeneration would see the world:

Normal Vision
Macular Degeneration

Types of Macular Degeneration:

There are two main types of Macular Degeneration:, Dry and Wet.

Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common type of the disease. It is also the least serious. In this type, the macula is slowly damaged by protein deposits. Because it is so slow, vision loss is gradual. In a few cases, patients can develop Wet Macular Degeneration.

Wet Macular Degeneration is more serious. It forms when blood vessels grow under the macula. Vision loss can occur within days.

In rare cases, young people can also get Macular Degeneration. This is called Juvenile Macular Degeneration. It is almost always caused by a genetic disorder.

Causes & Risk Factors:

The exact cause is unknown. It usually forms as the eye ages, so it is most common in the elderly. Your risk may be higher if you have a family history of Macular Degeneration.

To lower your risk, you should:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Use sunglasses to protect your eyes in the sun
  • Avoid drinking excessive alcohol
  • Avoid smoking & tobacco

Macular Degeneration is hard to notice because there is no pain. The main symptoms are

  • Difficulty in recognizing faces
  • Visual distortions such as straight lines appearing bent
  • Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
  • Need for brighter light when reading or doing close work

There is no cure for Macular Degeneration. However, vision loss can be slowed or stopped. Early treatment is important to control the disease before too much vision is lost.

Dry Macular Degeneration:

Treatment helps patients use their remaining eyesight. You may be referred to a Low Vision Clinic, where you will learn the skills you need to lead a normal life. You may also buy visual aids that help with everyday tasks.

Wet Macular Degeneration:

Doctors may advise laser treatment or intravitreal injections. With laser treatment, a beam of light is aimed at the abnormal blood vessels. This destroys them and should stop further bleeding. With intravitreal injections, a medication is carefully injected into the eye. This medication stops the growth of the abnormal blood vessels.

A healthy, balanced diet may slow vision loss. Vitamin-rich foods are generally good for eye health. These include oranges, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots. This is not a treatment, but it can improve your overall health.