Macular Degeneration​

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.

In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. The vision loss makes it difficult to recognize faces, drive a car, read, print, or do other routine activities.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration:

Macular degeneration usually produces a slow, painless decrease in vision. In rare cases, however, vision loss can be sudden. Early signs of vision loss from AMD include shadowy areas in your central vision or unusually fuzzy or distorted vision. Symptoms might be:

  • Visual distortions, such as straight lines seeming bent
  • Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
  • The need for brighter light while reading or doing close work
  • Increased blurriness of printed words
  • Decreased intensity or brightness of colors
  • Difficulty recognizing faces

A common early symptom of macular degeneration is the presence of drusen — tiny yellow deposits under the retina — or pigment clumping. Your eye care professional can detect these during a comprehensive eye exam.

Treatment for Macular Degeneration:

Treatment for macular degeneration depends on whether the disease is in its early-stage, dry form or in the more advanced, wet form that can lead to serious vision loss. No FDA-approved treatment exists yet for dry macular degeneration, although nutritional intervention may help prevent its progression to the wet form. For wet AMD, treatments aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth include FDA-approved drugs, laser therapy, and photodynamic laser therapy. Another form of treatment is an implantable miniature telescope which, once implanted inside the eye, magnifies the field of vision.

Prevention of Macular Degeneration:

While there is no surefire way to prevent macular degeneration, certain practices may help reduce the risk of developing the disease and may help slow its progression. These include:

  • Regular eye exams to detect early signs of macular degeneration
  • Stopping smoking
  • Staying active and maintaining regular exercise
  • Eating a nutritious diet high in antioxidants, fruits, and vegetables and low in saturated fat
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Wearing sunglasses with UV protection when outside

Please note that this information is provided for informational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice. If you suspect you have macular degeneration or any eye-related concerns, it is important to consult with an eye care professional for a proper evaluation and personalized recommendations.