Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over 60. Often called age-related macular degeneration, it affects more than 10 million Americans – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined.
The disease occurs when there are changes to the macula, a small portion of the retina that is located in the inside back layer of the eye. The macula records the images we see and sends them to the brain via the optic nerve. Macular degeneration is a loss of central vision.
There are two forms of macular degeneration. Each is treated differently.
- “Dry” macular degeneration. This is the most common form. It has no known treatment, but you can slow the progression with changes in your diet and nutritional supplements. With dry macular degeneration, the macula gradually becomes thin and stops working.
- “Wet” macular degeneration. This occurs when fluids leak from new blood vessels under the macula. The leakage blurs your vision in the center of your eye. Vision loss can be rapid and severe. If detected early, wet macular degeneration can be slowed down with laser treatments that seal the leaking blood vessels. Medication can also be injected in the eye to slow the growth of the leaky blood vessels.
In its early stages, the following signs of macular degeneration can go unnoticed.
- Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- Shape of objects appears distorted
- Straight lines look wavy or crooked
- Loss of clear color vision
- A dark or empty area in the center of vision
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