Macular degeneration is damage or degeneration of the macular of the eye. The macula is the small, central area of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. Aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula cause macular degeneration. Vision loss is generally gradual.
In some cases, abnormal blood vessels develop and leak blood or fluid under the macula. Vision loss in these cases may be rapid. This is referred to as “WET” macular degeneration.
When the macular does not function properly, you experience blurriness or distortion in the central portion of your vision. Macular degeneration makes near work like reading or sewing very difficult.
Although macular degeneration reduces reading and near vision, it does not affect your peripheral vision. For example, you might see the outline of a clock, but not be able to tell what time it is.
The best defense against vision loss is regular eye examinations!
If you are experiencing one or more of the following, have your eyes examined immediately:
- Words on a page look blurred especially in the center
- Straight lines look distorted, especially in the center of your vision
- A dark or empty area appears in the center of your vision
- Colors look dim
Although some types of macular degeneration can be treated with lasers and medication to slow or prevent additional vision loss, there is no proven cure for macular degeneration. See your eye doctor to evaluate what treatment is best for you.
Various low vision aids can help patients continue a normal lifestyle. They include:
- Magnifying devices
- Closed circuit television
- Large print reading materials
- Talking or computerized devices
Your eye doctor can prescribe optical devices, and/or refer you to a low vision specialist, support services, and rehabilitation programs to assist you in maintaining a satisfying lifestyle.