What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a painless condition that impacts the macula, which is part of the eye that allows you to see centrally – or the center of your visual range. This disease is much more common in people over the age of 60, so you’ll often hear it called “age-related macular degeneration,” or AMD.
People with macular degeneration often experience few or no symptoms in its early stages, which is why we recommend regular exams with your ophthalmologist.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration - Wet Macular Degeneration and Dry Macular Degeneration. Both types can affect one or both eyes.
Wet macular degeneration results when the blood vessels behind the macula leak blood. This condition can lead to partial or total central vision loss, while often retaining some peripheral vision capability.
Dry macular degeneration, which is much more common than wet AMD, occurs when the macula thins over time, prompting clumps of protein to develop on the macula. Like wet macular degeneration, this condition can cause partial or full blindness.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
The specific cause of macular degeneration is not currently known. However, there is thought to be an association with genetics, or certain lifestyle and health concerns. For example, obesity, heart disease, and smoking are all somewhat associated with the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
AMD often presents itself with very few noticeable symptoms or discomfort. You may notice some blurry vision, straight lines appearing wavy or curved, or central vision loss, but the result of the slowly progressing disease may be sudden. Often, people do not know they have macular degeneration until they come in for a routine eye exam.
How Is Macular Degeneration Treated?
Early diagnosis of macular degeneration is critical for saving as much vision as possible. While there is not a cure for AMD, treatment can slow its progression. Some supplements or vitamins have been shown to slow the progression of the disease. You may also be given glasses or contacts so that you can still participate in your regular activities. For treatment of wet macular degeneration, medication can stop the blood vessels from growing behind the retina. This can help you maintain your central vision.