Macular degeneration is a medical condition that affects the central part of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for our central vision which allows us to see fine details and colors clearly and is necessary for activities such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces.
Macular degeneration occurs when the macula deteriorates, causing a gradual loss of central vision. This condition can affect one or both eyes and can progress slowly over time or more rapidly.
There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is the more common type and occurs when the macula thins and drusen form in the retina. Drusen are made up of lipids, proteins, and other materials that accumulate between the layers of the retina. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak blood and fluid, causing damage to the macula.
Macular drusen and deterioration can be detected at our clinic during your dilated eye exam or through imaging tests such as optical coherence tomography (OCT). If a significant number of drusen are present, our eye doctor may monitor the condition closely or recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the risk of developing AMD.
Risk factors for macular degeneration include age, family history, smoking, and high blood pressure. Symptoms may include blurred or distorted vision, difficulty seeing in low light, and a blind spot in the center of the visual field.
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatments such as injections to prevent new blood vessels forming in the retina, laser therapy, and photodynamic therapy can help slow or stop the progression of the disease and preserve remaining vision. It is important to consult your eye doctor if you notice any changes in your vision or if you have any concerns about macular degeneration.