Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula. The macula is a small area in the retina at the back of the eye that allows you to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading and driving. When the macula does not function correctly, your central vision can be affected by blurriness, dark areas, or distortion. Macular degeneration affects your ability to see near and far and can make some activities—like threading a needle or reading—difficult or impossible.

Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it usually does not affect the eye’s side or peripheral vision. For example, you could see the outline of a clock but not be able to tell what time it is.

Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. Even in more advanced cases, people continue to have some useful vision and often are able to take care of themselves. In many cases, macular degeneration’s impact on your vision can be minimal.

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the body’s natural aging process. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). There are two types of ARMD: Dry and Wet.

Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Most people have the more common “dry” form of ARMD, where vision loss is gradual, but usually progresses over the years. Dry macular degeneration may first develop in one eye and then affect both. It is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. The macula is unable to dispose of all waste products, and these build up under the retina. These deposits under the retina are called drusen.
Drusen alone usually do not cause severe vision loss, but when they increase in size or number, this generally indicates an increased risk of developing advanced ARMD.

Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The “wet” form of macular degeneration accounts for about 10 percent of all ARMD cases and can develop quickly. Patients require treatment soon after symptoms appear as vision loss can be severe. It results when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina at the back of the eye. These new blood vessels leak fluid or blood and blur central vision. People at risk for developing advanced ARMD have significant dry ARMD, or abnormal blood vessels under the macula in one eye (“wet” form).

What Causes Macular Degeneration?

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If you are concerned about macular degeneration, or are seeking treatment for the condition, contact Southern Eye Group of Alabama today!

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